Several times in recent months I have been tempted to get hurt feelings – until that is, my way of looking, my perception, changed.
Some number of years ago I gave what I thought was a lovely wooden communion set (chalice and plate) to a minister at my church. It was by way of a peace offering as I felt I had not always been patient with him, and sometimes bordered on being down-right unkind. We had a nice lunch together and I gave the gift. My sense was that he was pleased. He has been gone from my church for years, but on occasion I see his set used at church; he did not take it with him. When I first became aware of this I felt hurt; I was disappointed that the gift had not been important enough to him, to take with him. It so happens that the chalice was used last Sunday at church when we had communion. Maybe I was listening more closely this time to the Spirit… This time I wondered if perhaps he had thought it had been a gift for him to use, but that it really belonged to the church. Of course I do not know, and will likely never know, which of these scenarios is the right, true, scenario. But the latter gives me comfort and comfort is good, so I’m going with it.
I have a dear friend, a former neighbor, who after over 60 years of marriage lost his wife more than a year ago. Because of our friendship, and because I have moved in the interim, we work at staying in touch regularly. Several weeks ago I called him one night to let him know I was going out of town. We had just begun to chat when he told me he had to take another call. (This 89+ year old is up to date on all things technical, and so has access to both his home and cell phone, on his home phone.) I brushed it off with a “that’s fine, no need to visit tonight” but in my heart I felt a sense of “not good enough.” I was not good enough for him to continue to talk with, someone else was “better than” me, and worthy of my friend’s attention.
More recently he and I went out for breakfast. I was in the middle of telling him a bit about the new dog when he looked away, drawn elsewhere until he returned unaware of the conversation in which we had been engaged (or at least I was). Again, I began to have hurt feelings.
BUT, and this is where the wiser part comes in, the “change your perceptions” and you’ll feel better part, lifts me up. I thought back to the phone call – and recognized how after having lived with someone for so long and now being thrown into a life alone, my friend craved contact. He craved any contact and ALL contacts. When he put me off to talk to someone else I think it was because 1) he trusted me to be okay and still love him, and 2) to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to someone else. In the restaurant I realized – quickly – that he may not have heard me (we both have hearing issues), and that his having turned aside was not a turning away, rather a turning toward the life that was happening around him, around us.
While I have for all of my grown life been inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt, it seems that when it’s personal, I may not be so quick to do so. These experiences are good reminders for me – and maybe for you – that if we take the time to consider the “place” of the other, to effectively step into his or her shoes for a moment, we will be lifted up to a better, more caring, more compassionate, place.
NOTE: You might want to check out a new pictorial tab I added to the website called NIGHT LIFE. Enjoy!