Even though I know how much words can hurt, it still comes as a surprise when piercing words tear me apart or when my words have broken someone. A couple of weeks ago, a close friend of mine told me something that hurt me. But like many hurts, this hurt leads me both to pain, and a small bandage that is slowly opening the door to healing and revelation.
I knew things were strained between us. He didn't pick up on phone calls or response to text messages. And when he did call his conversations were cut short. As for the text messages there were tart, clip, replies instead of his usual labour of love strung through funny antidotes. So before he left, I stepped right up to him and told him that we needed to talk. Yes we needed to talk, out in the hallway from any ears and distractions. He reluctantly followed me out. He still hesitated and tried to get away from our talk by stating that there was nothing wrong between us, that he had just been busy.
He eventually told me what had pushed him away. You see he and I belong to a circle of friends, that I have felt, since that fateful day in the hallway of my apartment, needed to be adjourned. Some of us had met in high school, some in the university halls. Either way our group was too interconnected that each person budded in one others' business to the point that there was no privacy. At the end of the day nobody could really sincerely say who it was that spilled one secret to the other. So we all started to play the blame game.
In this blame game I became another person to blame. Many times I got confused. He would insist that I was the one that spilled it all. Till this moment I am confused. I sincerely felt that I didn't spew anything. But it wasn't even that accusation that stung me. It was the hiding game that he played that led to a slash in my tender heart. Flashback to the same time last year – someone else had broken my heart in this way. During that time he was there to pick me up and reassured me that he would never play avoidance with me. He went back on a promise. He broke my heart, because I thought he was one of the few I can count on.
There was also something else that he said that made me quite uncomfortable. This one I saw coming. Still it was strange territory. At this point in his life (and I have to admit I am going through this too) he has many people that tare him apart. Many empty promises and many useless friendships that couldn’t go deep. Countless times over the summer we had discussions circling on those tipsy turvy friendships. It got to a point where he didn’t believe in friendships. I told him that he shouldn’t be a “cynic”, and that if anything bothered him in a friendship he needed to step up instead of being “passive aggressive”. Do you see where these labels landed me in hot water, even though I had good intentions? I kept reminding him that I was also working through shaky friendships. I told him that we will get through this. We are young, we are discovering life, we need to find the little light and keep going. Somehow this made him more upset. He wanted me to see his pain, and felt that I was sweeping it under rugs.
I feared for him. I didn’t want him to lose hope. I knew despair. Despair has walked with me all my life and threatens to continue to daily. I know that despair and fear are friends. There are elements that breathe death instead of life. I didn’t want to see someone I love with a beautiful heart, let others’ meanness drive him into a dark hole.
This event out in the hallway of my apartment suite, made me realize how rocky our friendship is. Maybe we got too involved in each other’s lives, maybe we couldn’t understand each other’s viewpoints, maybe we are just growing apart, or maybe it’s all these reasons meshed together. Whatever it is, I know for sure that we are not standing on stable ground. Then something else struck me. I remember in the Old Testament that verse about putting trust in God more than men. You see at this moment, I am re-reading a book by Ron Rolhessier called Against an Infinite Horizon. This book touches on how we as humans are forever “restless until we rest in God,” as St. Augustine relates in his Confessions. No matter what connections we have, these relationships cannot fulfill our longing for God. Yet we try to fill this longing, through others, or things, or both. Maybe both him and I want someone to fully understand us. That cannot be. Even we don’t fully understand ourselves.
So what to do? I realize I may have to form stronger boundaries around people that surround me with negativity. Maybe I may also have to find people that are my age that are going through a similar faith journey. I may also have to ease up on trying to make people fully understand me, because only God can understand our utmost being. Another question haunts me. Where do you draw the line? How do you know who should or shouldn’t enter your life? I am beginning to understand that in love one cannot just only keep giving or just taking. No, things need to be balanced. I need to find friendships where I am not just giving, or just taking, but that both parties are freely giving and taking.
Those words that I said that affected him negatively got me thinking that one can never be too careful with the matters of the heart. We break each other without intending to. We are forever put in the spotlight to decide what to say or what not to say. Do I regret calling him a “cynic” and “passive aggressive”? Not, exactly. One day he may be thankful or maybe he would never think of it as me trying to help. Still, I felt I needed to tell him. Next time, I will find other words to convey my emotions towards his anger. As for his accusations, I think I am not guilty. I do respect his opinion on what I supposedly did, and I don’t wish for him to take back his words. If I did I would be contradicting myself. How did this bring healing to me? It made me aware of my humanness. I am not perfect, and through each imperfection I can find myself closer to Christ. I can look at my mistakes and understand that without God’s relationship every other relationship doesn’t have meaning.