Live Life with Your Arms Wide Open

            We’ve all been hurt. Sadly, it’s often the people we love the most and trust the most who end up hurting us the most. What we do with that hurt can actually be more harmful that the hurt itself.

            So many of us leave a trail of broken relationships in our wake. We’ve been hurt or we’ve hurt others and rather than working through the conflict, we let the relationship go. Sadly, it’s easier to let go than resolve the conflict, even if it is a mother, a brother or a best friend. What we often don’t consider is how every broken relationship, every unresolved “betrayal,” changes us forever.

            Many of us build walls around our hearts. In theory, the walls are supposed to protect us from getting hurt again, but in reality they do more harm than protection. It is these walls that keep us from living and loving to the fullest. When we allow the pain of our past to impact our present by putting us in protection mode, we are the ones who lose.

            For years I lived with walls around my heart. I was so scared of getting hurt that I didn’t let anyone close enough to hurt me. I was lonely and longing and I began to realize that not only were the walls I had built keeping the harmful relationships out, but also the very ones that I longed for the most. You see, the thing about walls, they keep people out, ALL of them.

           With lots of prayer, journaling and tears I tore the walls down.

            Some of the best friends in my life (including my husband) entered my life shortly after this. I would never have allowed those relationships if my walls had still been up; they were far too risky. Every one of these friendships was well worth the risk!

            I’ve been hurt over the years now that my walls are down. One friend hurt me repeatedly. But the thing about letting your walls down, well, they are DOWN. At least for me, it meant living my life with my arms wide open. Despite getting hurt, I can’t help it, I love unreservedly and I forgive without question, sometimes again and again.

            Recently I was going through an especially dark time and I called one of the people who is on that top tier of people. I was at my wits end. I was near to despairing and I needed to know someone loved me and I needed empathy. What I got was something very different.

            Instead of getting love and compassion, I got judgment. I was told that it was my fault, that all these bad things totally out of our control that were happening to us were somehow our fault. I was told that there must be something wrong with us that made us a target for all the bad things that happened. I was not only hurt, I felt betrayed.

            I didn’t yell or get angry. I didn’t defend myself. I listened and I let go, determined to not talk to this person until I received an apology for the truly terrible things she said. This wasn’t the first time she had hurt me and I have always forgiven and let it go despite the hurt she has caused, but this one . . . well, when I needed her the most she made it abundantly clear that she did not intend to be there for me.

            So I built a wall, for the first time in years, and I waited for the phone call of apology that would bring the wall down. But the phone call never came.

            I’ve spent the last 2 ½ months debating what to do. I don’t want to be a door mat. I don’t want people to think that they can treat me like crap and that I’ll just come back for more. I don’t want to be weak. BUT, am I willing to lose this relationship because of my pride and just because I’m right? Is it really worth that?

            I couldn’t get around it. Despite how justified my reaction might be, it is not worth losing the relationship. The wall has to come down. I have to call her, even if I never get my apology. It’s the right thing to do, even if I don’t like it.

            As I came to this decision I had an epiphany. In every single relationship we have, we are going to hurt people. We don’t mean to, we don’t want to, but we are going to do it despite our best efforts. It is part of being human. So often, those we love the most, we fail the most.

            However you feel about the Bible, you can’t deny the truth of grace. Grace is given, not deserved. I need grace from all the people I have hurt, as unintentionally as it might have been, I still hurt them. I want their grace. I need their grace. As much as I love my children, it’s inevitable, I will hurt them someday, maybe even fail them in some way. I need grace.

            If I want to receive grace and forgiveness from others, I also need to give it, freely, even when it isn’t deserved, because the very definition of grace is that it is not deserved.

            So how many times do I forgive my brother who has hurt me, seventy times seven. I forgive without fail. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done. Withholding grace does not punish the one who doesn’t receive it as much as it hurts us for withholding it. We become stingy and small of spirit. We become jaded and stunted. Grace is as much for us as it is for them.

            So I will swallow my pride, pick up my phone and CALL. I will live my life with my arms wide open. It’s worth any pain that comes my way.

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2 thoughts on “Live Life with Your Arms Wide Open

  1. Why hasn’t she called you in all this time? Even if she didn’t plan an apology, if she valued the friendship, she would have called. I think you wear your heart on your sleeve, and believe me honey, it takes one to know one! I have always done what you’re describing, forgive, forgive, forgive for the sake of saving the friendship. But my aunt pointed out to me that the BIble also teaches us that if you “pet the rabbid dog your hand will be bit”. Forgive in your heart, let go, but don’t invite people to step on you again and again. Think of it this way, would you be so willing to invite her back in if it were one of your children she constantly hurt? Protect your heart as you would theirs! You’re worth all that and so much more. I’m not saying don’t forgive, I’m just saying, if Dr. Phil ever taught us ANYTHING its this one simple idea: The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. She keeps proving she’s gonna step on you, so stop her in her tracks. Wait it out, forgive, but don’t open that door till she comes knocking with her apology in hand! Take it from a girl who has walked in the shoes you described so eloquently!

  2. I like Tiffany’s response. Yes, you can forgive, it’s always good. But when someone is looking for a shoulder to lean on, someone to listen to, you shouldn’t have someone saying that there is something wrong with you to bring it on yourself. Sometimes one just needs a friend to be there, not judgemental.

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