Recently Dave and I were able to attend the temple with our good friends Darren and Cathy. Afterward, we went to dinner at the Olive Garden and enjoyed visiting with each other. Much of the conversation was about our children. Something that Darren said really stood out to me. We had been talking about a particular child that seems to try to make life difficult sometimes. Darren said that from his perspective, this child of ours was actually more sensitive to the Spirit than most people, and that while he seems to have many weaknesses, he has just as many strengths.
Darren and Cathy had been in Salt Lake already for work, so we were in separate cars on the way home. Dave and I talked on the way home about how we need to focus on this child's strengths more and actually try to ignore his weaknesses completely. We put that into practice, hard as it is for us, right away and things have been going really well.
A few days later, I thanked Darren, who, by the way, I'm sure has no idea how much what he said has impacted me. Then later that day I had the opportunity to get a different perspective on what I was trying to work on. A perspective that will forever leave me a different person, yet a perspective I didn't exactly enjoy getting...
I am my ward's Relief Society president. My presidency and I found ourselves at the church for a meeting a few hours after church. A friend of mine took opportunity to talk to my secretary and I in the hallway. Putting her arm around my secretary, who was only recently called to serve in that capacity, this friend said, "I am so glad she has you now, she is soooo scatter-brained!" She went on to explain that she has known me for a very long time (over 8 years) and that I have ALWAYS been that way. I was dumbfounded! I couldn't believe that she was actually saying these words that I am sure she has been thinking for over 8 years now! Wow! Not knowing how to respond, I laughed it off and went on my merry way. But the words hurt. Mostly because I believed them to be true and because I was sure that others also felt this way about me. Wow.
An hour or so later, I needed to drop something off to this friend that had so deeply hurt me. I didn't want to go, I really wanted to leave the item on her porch and not even knock on the door, but I pulled up my big girl panties and knocked. She came to the door and took the item I'd brought. I wanted to leave quickly, but she must have realized she hurt me earlier. She told me that she was sorry if the words she had said had hurt my feelings, but that in all the years she had known me I had always been so scattered. She went on to say that I had a big heart and that I meant well and that she knew my plate was very full, but that I had always always been that way. Wow! Salt in freshly open wound! I acknowledged that what she had said had hurt me and that I hadn't realized others saw me that way. I know I had tears through what I said, which I HATE that I let her see me cry. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Over the next day and a half I reeled at what had been said to me. I prayed for comfort. I prayed that I would know how to respond. I wrote down what I WANTED to say to this person, but didn't send it to her. And then the answer came... I needed to make her a gift.
I wrote down all the good things I know about this person. Then I went to work creating subway art in vinyl to put on a floating frame for her. I wrote her a note that told her how much she has taught me over the years and how much her friendship means to me. I made sure to NOT bring up how she had hurt me AT ALL!
And now I have what I was seeking. Comfort. I have forgiven. I have moved on. And I have decided that I don't need to believe others opinions of me, but I can work on being a better person anyway. And I have resolved what I had already resolved x 10 that I will try hard every day to lift my children up and point out their strengths, not their weaknesses. And oddly, I am soooo grateful for the experience.