The Daily Post May 27, 2015
Daily Prompt: Baggage Check
We all have complicated histories. When was the last time your past experiences informed a major decision you’ve made?
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Every decision we make in life is informed by something that has gone before, the experiences we have under our belts. I think the better question for this prompt would have been, Is there one past experience in your life that has informed more choices than any others? Those are the experiences that change who we are and affect our life decisions most profoundly.
I met someone once, a lovely lady who ended up playing a large role in the life of my family. When I was first getting to know her we grew very close. We’d talk for hours on the phone and through letters (snail mail was still the thing then — 1986) and I allowed myself to be very vulnerable with her. She always seemed genuinely concerned about my life and the struggles I’d share with her. And as I got to know her, she shared with me some of the things her husband had struggled with early on in their marriage.
But as time went on and I actually met her, I realized her concern was not as genuine as I believed. She was a wonderful “Christian” woman (which was the context of the relationship), but listening and engaging in that kind of trust sharing proved to be very superficial on her part. It was a case of, “Do it as unto Jesus himself,” so to speak, but only if there were no lasting strings attached. In the end it felt as if I had been cut open and left to bleed to death. Next thing I knew she was off “ministering” to someone else.
That experience precipitated a major depression in my life. I was several years trying to come to terms with what had happened. And I NEVER intended to allow myself to be that vulnerable with anyone again. The grief counselor I saw after my mother’s death told me to stop wearing my heart on my coat sleeve where it could be so easily trampled by anyone. I’ve tried, but as the years have gone by, I’ve learned to choose more carefully those with whom I share important parts of my life. And in the end I believe I’m a bit healthier mentally because of what happened.
I learned one very important thing from that experience. I learned to never take lightly the hurts and pains others share with me. That kind of sharing is a sacred thing, I believe, to have someone trust you so much that they make themselves vulnerable to you. I don’t consider listening a ministry. It’s a responsibility and a privilege. And I am deeply honored when I find that kind of mutual trust with other people.
I’ve been blessed to find some of those folks on these blogs. That was something I never expected. They know who they are, I hope, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for allowing our friendships to develop into something wonderful and caring.
So though my initial experience caused a great deal of pain and especially confusion, I have to say I think I came out on the other side of it wiser and more accepting than I would have been had it never happened. In very many ways it changed who I was and has affected every relationship I’ve had since or ever will have. It was truly a hidden blessing. And it’s certainly “informed” every major decision I’ve ever made — at least where people are concerned.