A Note to Gayle

THIS POST , written to note my recent 57th birthday, brought a comment left for me by Gayle:

"interesting entry, I am torn between agreeing with all you say and thinking you are self centered. I am older than you but in the same place. I would love to share a meal with you all."

It hurt my feelings, and immediately put me on the defensive. Everything in me wanted to delete it, or delete the entire post. I'm good at confrontation like that :-)

Just today I read Charles Swindoll's words, from Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back, on the subject of being misunderstood, "Few things are more difficult to live with than being misunderstood. Sometimes it's downright unbearable."

This verse, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6 comes to mind.

It happens that yesterday was a particularly crummy day, one that started early by being misunderstood by someone else, who - like Gayle - doesn't really know me, and made a judgment call on my character from a few words, or even words passed on but not repeated correctly, with my heart behind them. So to have someone, even when it's someone I'll likely never meet, think that I might be self-centered, made it a two-days-in-a-row of feeling a bit beat up.

I've got a lot of flaws. Things that aren't so great about my personality, like I HATE conflict, run from it. I'm crazy-sensitive and get my feelings hurt way too easily. I want everyone to like me and love me would be even better. I want to fix everything and everyone so that their world is, as I see it, perfect. (a particular favorite of my family!) I tend to jump in too quickly, then back-peddle when I feel overwhelmed. I am not a great housekeeper and put off those jobs that I don't love. I stay up too late, and eat too much candy and am crummy at math. I buy too many books and tend to go on kicks.

But I've never been accused of being self-centered by anyone who really knows me.

This world we live in - of words sent lightning-speed by text and email and messenger - on the upside makes it easy to stay in touch. Think pioneer days when it took months to hear from someone across the country. On the downside it's easy to say words we shouldn't and often wish we could take back. It removes the human touch of leaning into a conversation, really looking into someone's eyes as we speak or listen, sharing tears as we hurt with them. It takes away tongue in cheek, smiles and laughter or that 'just kidding' look on our face. It removes the social graces of taking turns - you talk while I listen, then I talk and you listen.

Having a blog is a choice, my choice, and allowing anonymous comments is also. In the five or so years I've been blogging I've only had a handful of comments that hurt. That's not bad as scores go.

I read somewhere - when you receive words that hurt and feel unfair, look for the grain of truth and take it. Learn from it, and move on.

So I'm leaving the comment. I'm thinking about it. Thinking about what I might have said that made me come across as self-centered to someone who does not know me.

Yes, Gayle, if you want to ever share a meal and we're within 100 miles of each other I'm quite happy to make the drive to sit and talk, face to face, eyes making contact, bodies leaning in as we each listen long and hard. If that meal never happens, I hope you'll take the time to read other posts on my blog and see my heart. I'm praying you'll see words that reflect Colossians 4:6, get a better picture of who and Whose I am than this particular post gave you.

My settings allow anyone to comment and as long as they aren't obscene I'll leave them. (My comment box does, after all, say "let me know what's on your mind.") I'll read them, look for the grain of truth and go from there. 


Kelli said…
Well said.

Sandy said…
Wow this was great. I tend to jump in, be impulsive, always assuming I am doing the absolute right thing. I had an incident last week when this happened and I was called out immediately. Not wrongly, just corrected. Were my feelings hurt! I was offended, shocked and very embarrassed. I have been suffering silently (and not so silently) ever since. I think now, I will step back, find the grain of truth and try and grow from it - with a positive attitude, not begrudgingly. We learn from each.
Becky said…
Wow, beautifully said.
Linds said…
I have known you for years, Bev - not in real life but here, where you pour out your words, and here, where I come to chat. Never once have I thought that you were self centred. In fact, in recent weeks, I have watched you step back and put those you love before your desires or needs. Maybe one day we too will meet, and chat and see each other's hearts.
Karen said…
Wow--someone who thinks you are self-centered obviously hasn't read much of your blog. I'm so sorry your feelings were hurt, but you handled it very graciously. Maybe we can all learn a lesson from this. Love & blessings, Karen
Anonymous said…
Know that you and the blog are loved by many. When "we met" you were still in your PA home. I so enjoy & appreciate following your journey, please continue sharing with your cyber friends. I love your spirit and I adore your family connections (I have many friends, but very few in my family.)
A fan, Kalamazoo Sue
Susan Mayer Donald said…
Wow Bev - I really am speechless (and that does not happen too often)! I can only say that Gayle must be new to you & your blog. Not knowing her but just my opinion of what she wrote I am wondering if someone has told her recently that she is self centered herself since she is "torn between agreeing with all you say and thinking you are self centered." There are a lot of pressures on us as wives, mothers, children of God, daughters, nurturers, teachers & now Grandparents.
I spent a few years close to you when we were in HS & I valued your friendship! I have missed your friendship over the years though I always thought about you & now that we have "reconnected" through FB, I look forward to when we can sit down, chat over guac & chips & spend some more time together. I have read your blogs for several years now & I think the last thing that can be said of you is "self-centered"! To me, you speak the truth!! You say a lot that I relate to - of how I feel, of what I struggle with, of what I think & of what I want to do. I think you say a lot of what other people our age think & go through.
You were a very caring person in HS & I think you still are that way!
Sammy said…
Hi Bev,

You probably don't remember this and I'm just going to be bringing up something for no reason, but I'm taking a chance here. Like you, I also get my feelings hurt very easily. Additionally, if I feel like I have unintentionally hurt someone's feelings, I feel even worse. Years ago I left you a comment that was supposed to be funny. It was around the use of the Yiddish work "chutzpah." Now I'm Jewish and my grandparents spoke Yiddish exclusively, so I feel a strong connection to the language. But I love when non-Jews use the words. It makes me happy. But I didn't convey this in my comment to you and from your response I could tell I hurt your feelings. I didn't want to start a big thing, so I just left it alone, but I always remembered it. This latest post of yours inspired me to officially apologize and explain that I truly didn't mean to make you feel bad. I hope you can accept my apology.

Chances are, you don't remember me. So if you don't remember any of this, I hope you can accept my apology for even bringing it up! :-)

PS I'm glad you're still blogging!
Bev said…
I have refrained from commenting on any of these comments, as I did not want Gayle to feel like she was being thrown under the bus; I have so much appreciated each comment or email sent to me, voicing your support and appreciation of my words. I did want to tell SAMMY, specifically, that I do not remember the comment you mentioned. However, I still am touched that you would take the time to apologize for what you remembered as an offense years ago. Great lesson for me to remember myself! xoox
Kelly said…
Grace epitomized. Thank you for sharing your heart over the years... you have been a long distance mentor for me in so many ways, and your grace in this is another lesson.

(I was just thinking yesterday about having my girls journal this summer- inspired by your expectation of your daughters when they were growing up. Hoping I stick to it this time!!)
Hey Bev!

Glad to see you are still blogging after you said you wouldn't be back until Sept.
gayle said…
Wow, I am so sorry that my comment was so hurtful. I should have explained what I was thinking. When I saidI am in the same place, I truly meant it as we are similar in our behaviors..we want to please everyone and feel that we are so needed by all who interact with us ( therefore we think we are irreplaceable and that meant that we put our own needs last.) I don't even know why I would use the word self centered except I want to be more for myself. Not self centered as a negative but as a ok, good thing. I certainly will be more careful with comments in the future. I have read your blog for a very long time, I enjoy what you say and do and think you are a kind helpful person. I need to re read the original post and see what struck me and caused me to use an odd word. I feel bad that this resounded with you and caused grief. Life is hard enough without strangers being mean spirited.
gayle said…
Sorry this is late, I hadn't checked your blog as we are in the middle of 2 family moves. I reread the birthday post and can only say I must have misread what you were writing. I certainly agreed with the words used.
Anonymous said…
Hi Bev,

Just wanted you to know I really enjoy your blog and the insights you share. :)

Bev said…
Gayle, just got your message today (I've been with two of our youngest grandkids so was otherwise occupied!) and wanted to say thank you for taking time to share your heart with me. Your last two sentences really resounded with me, speaking a grace that I know reflects your heart. I am truly touched by your words. Thanks, also for continuing to be a reader. I'm honored.

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