Warning: long post!
I have been catching up with some blog posts by the woman that inspired me to start my own blog, Dawn Meehan. I was shocked and dismayed to find out she’d recently finalised her divorce. It has been so long since I’ve read hers, or anyone’s blog, that I had no idea she even had marital problems, let alone that it had gone that far. As I read her posts and about how she is not just accepting but moving forward, Dawn continues to inspire me by her amazing character and strength as a woman and now a single mom. In searching for more information, I came across this blog post on judging others from 2008 and although I understand the original context in what she wrote is different from my situation, I believe the message is universally applicable.
Let me explain…
Recently I found myself drowning in judgement from a friend I thought would always understand me, a friend I’d always thought of as a sister. After months of silence from her, I wrote an email asking what I had done that she seemed to be so upset with me, upset enough that even when I spent a few days in hospital in April she really didn’t seem to give a crap. The reply I received from her felt like someone had taken a knife and stabbed me in the heart.
Engaging in a short email conversation via fb, I received replies that had accusations that felt judgemental, accusatory and essentially indicative that because I was struggling in my Christian walk and faith (perhaps one day I will feel ready to write about this) that I was no longer “good enough” to be acknowledged. I read her words and found myself feeling that if I “get my shit together” (my words) I will then be acceptable to spend time with??? Did she bother to ask me what was going on? Not at all. Did she take time to learn that I spent a lot of time keeping my mouth shut around her and not sharing some things because I didn’t want to worry or upset her? No, instead I was accused of not thinking of her at all, that I didn’t take time to stop, whilst in my own personal hell, to see how my actions were affecting her life. What??? Other comments in her emails indicated that she had the idea that my faith struggles were based on some whim, that I “decided” God no longer fit my lifestyle so perhaps it was better He didn’t exist. That I traded in God for activities, the internet and men (I’ve dated one guy in the past year, what a ‘ho I am ! And heaven forbid I not spend every spare moment in or near a church or listening to sermons). Not once, to anyone, did I ever say God doesn’t exist. I cannot now, or ever, deny His existence, I’ve seen too much and experienced too much and felt too much to not believe. It wasn’t about not believing, it was far bigger than that but when I tried to explain to the one person I thought would understand I got pushed away and I didn’t hear from her for months until I sent that fateful email a few weeks ago.
Hurt, angry, confused and in tears I retaliated with accusations of hypocrisy and other words that I knew would hurt. Yet I still kept back most of what I really wanted to say as I still had hope that our friendship was salvageable. I tried to start an explanation of why I was in the place I was AND that I was actually working my way out of that black place (with the help of extremely supportive and non-judgemental friends). Her reply indicated that she had no idea I had been struggling (yet I know I had tried to explain months earlier) and left me feeling she was not interested in hearing what I had to say, that all I said in explanation fell on deaf ears. Comments such as “I had to distance myself to protect my faith as you were taking me to a dark place” Huh? Then in complete contradiction of that saying, “had you talked to me about it I would have been there to help”?? Ummm, I TRIED and my email was deleted (apparently on fb now if you delete an email it’s gone from the sender’s box as well) and I didn’t hear from her until I initiated a new conversation months later. After writing an angry and hurt filled email which I never sent, I finally wrote that I saw no point in attempting to explain further or argue my side, as she appeared uninterested, to say the least, in listening to what I had to say. I got no reply to that email, just another deleted conversation. So where do I/we go from here?
I’ve struggled with this question for awhile now as her friendship, her complete understanding of me, the things we shared, meant everything to me, beyond the popular term of bff she was the sister of my heart. The person I thought I knew, the one single individual I thought would tell me anything without fear, and I her, has become a stranger. There were indications over the past couple of years that there were changes I wasn’t crazy about, maybe I changed and it’s not her? But 18 years of friendship are essentially down the drain. She was the one person I could go to and tell ANYTHING to, she knows things about me that very very few people know. It’ll take me time to trust anyone again the way I trusted her after feeling trampled over and abandoned. I was accused of not thinking of her when she has no idea what I was thinking, that I should know better and that my life choices were unacceptable. Essentially I felt that because I am not a perfect Christian, that I have moments where I have struggled in my faith, then I have to “get better” before I’m “good enough” to receive her friendship. This is where I am left feeling, if it was intended or not, this is the message I picked up.
For the most part it’s been a busy summer and I’ve kept this on the backburner. My faith is renewing, I have amazing friends both online and in person that stand by me and I by them. I’ve been spending time in a fun activity that keeps me and the boys off the computer and outside playing. Until I read Dawn’s blog I could keep my hurt hidden, I could avoid deciding how to react, then these words popped out at me from that post…
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”
"It's easy to judge someone else and decide that they're incompetent when things are going well for you... A look (or word) that says - I understand; I'm sorry you're having a tough time, it’s ok.
I'm telling you, don't judge others. Let your words and actions be a blessing to them.
Even if you think you know all about the other person or the situation, you don't. Not until you've walked a mile in their shoes, can you truly understand.” ~Dawn Meehan
The more I think about things that have been said and actions that have been observed or lack of action, the more I realise we are no longer as similar as we once were. As I look at these things and the differences I see in the two of us that were never there before, the more I realise that the season of this friendship is over. I don’t understand. I have tried, I have struggled, it just doesn’t make sense to me but there it is and I can’t abide intolerance of the frailty of the human condition, physical, mental, spiritual and emotional, none of us are infallible. I am not perfect, I never will be, and as the beautiful Norma Jean Baker once said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best”. I will stand by my friends through all their trials and triumphs, give praise and hugs when their lives are going great, be a shoulder to cry on and pray for them when times are tough, but I will not put up with being made to feel like I’m unworthy unless I subscribe to anything other than who I am.
“A real friend is someone that knows all about you, but loves you just the same.” ~E. Hubbard
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” ~E. Hubbard