I hurt her feelings with my words at the recovery center. I had lashed out with sarcasm and the letters in my sentences slashed her heart into a million, invisible, blood clots of pain. I knew it the second the words flew from my lips, and in my attempt at humor, I became a slasher of a precious heart.
She sat to my right in the dining hall each week during church services, and in a split second during an illustration in my story, I became something I detest. I became a bully of sorts and it was not pretty.
I discovered the next week how much my teasing wrecked her joy when she didn’t return to church service.
I knew it was my fault even before a fellow resident told me, “She won’t be back. You embarrassed her. I know you meant it as a joke, but you really hurt her.”
Apologizing to everyone who came to the dining hall that morning made me feel better, but the person who needed to hear my apology was not in the room.
So I struggled to teach from my Bible that morning, afraid I’d done harm to a soul. I knew that her being in recovery was filled with plenty of issues all by itself and now I’d gone and blasted her from church services, like tossing her to the wind.
Praying for the chance to mend the wound of her heart, I asked one of the guards to summon her, so I could speak with her before I left the building.
We met one on one in the hallway after service.
She assured me she was fine. I assured her I was wrong to use my teasing to pick on her. I apologized profusely and stumbled over my words. I wasn’t sure she accepted my apology, at least not completely.
And as I drove away from the recovery center, I feared my “cockiness” had turned beyond humor and was now ugly. I had sinned against another. I had made fun of her. I had wounded her like others had done to me in the past. I became the very thing I hate. How could I be so mean?
The ugly in me had leapt out and my blunt way of my speaking had allowed me to make others laugh at the expense of another person.
I beat myself up over it. I scolded myself. I prayed for forgiveness. I cried. And I prayed she would come to church again. And I waited.
Years ago, someone taped an imaginary sign on my back that said, “Loser.” I got picked on. I was made fun of. I was the twin no one liked and who was the subject of jokes.
So those imaginary voices, signs and labels get hung on our being, and we hang onto them even as we grow up, and they can cause us to stumble.
But I love how God tapes hope, love, and joy onto our being. How He passes out peace, offers kindness, offers gentleness and goodness and even dispenses self control to us through His Holy Spirit. He’s the One walking behind you and me ripping off the tape of defeat … stomping those labels that discourage us. He is the dispenser of good. Of salvation. Of new life. Even new words.
Besides anything He says about you or me doesn’t have to be stuck on your back. He goes right to the heart of the matter. He forgives us completely. Even though we’re unworthy!
One Sunday down the road, I looked up and as we were praising the Lord and as I asked for prayer requests, I saw my wounded friend. She sat in another chair on the other side of the room. And she smiled at me!
Week after week she came to service and I was careful with my words, not only to her but to every lovely lady in rehab whom the Lord has allowed me to love on and share the gospel.
And then one Sunday, she hugged me and told me, “I’m going home soon. Thank you for being my friend.”
Wow. I could only praise God for using those last months to prune me, to reveal to me my need for Him, to curb my words, and for giving me some amazing ladies who just so happen to be some of my closest friends!!!
Proverbs 10:17 (NIV)
Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
May you forgive me for any harsh words I may say, or have said to you!
Love, Ms. Pam