A Response to an Article You’ll Never Read
But a message you need to hear
I have written more about betrayal in the last month than I have over the span of my entire writing career. I find the subject to be deeply personal and I guess I didn’t write about it previously out of fear that the person who betrayed me may be reading it. But in this last year’s healing journey something miraculous happened, the ability to be free to share my pain and vulnerability in my writing for the sake of Christ.
Stories are not helpful if they die inside you. And although you may not be a writer like me, your story is also deserving of a place to land. I wanted to tell this story because it’s important. Because so many of you have experienced the deep and boundless ends of betrayal and its effects on the remainder of your life.
I am at the very tail end of this part of my healing journey. I have felt free and ready to move on with my life. But tonight, something very painful happened. I was brought back to my most original memory of betrayal, the one that stung the most. The one I should have learned from but didn’t.
I do not know how I landed on it or how I got there, but I came across an article written by a person in my life who I deeply cared for and loved for many years. The article detailed the falling out of our friendship in a one-sided and deeply painful way, full of anger and spittle and an unleashing. The words stayed with me and just would not go away. Was this part of my healing process? I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that words were stuck in the recesses of my heart in places that I believed were healed long ago. What was the lesson?
After I read these words, I spoke with a dear friend of mine who is also a writer. We talked about why this was coming up for me now and what it may mean. I told her I wanted so badly to comment on the article and say this is so unfair, I did not get to tell my side of the story. But it’s what my friend said that stuck with me and the reason that I decided to share this experience with my readers.
“What you put on the internet is there forever.”
And she was right. And it got me thinking. What she said was not just applicable to what I wanted to respond, but it was applicable to so much more. The words we say out loud. The emails we write. The way we speak about people and to people. It’s there forever.
The internet is just a public display of our ugliness.
It brought me back to the notion of the sacredness of pain, of what goes on between two people who love and care about each other. How we are called to love our enemies and pray for them. How we are called to so much more than the world.
This may have been the moment that I realized that I really was a Christian. When I read her words and felt sorry for her that she doesn’t believe in forgiveness. When I wanted to hug her and tell her all about how Jesus has changed my life. How I was able to see both of us as sinners, having a part to play in the demise of our friendship. How my love for her has still not changed, not even for a minute, and even more so has grown knowing that she can’t take back what she did or what she said. Not because she can’t delete it, but because she is not Catholic.
There is no striving towards Christ in the world, no trips to the confessional, no examination of conscience. There is no conviction of heart because there is nothing to be convicted of.
When we write our own rules, when we live for ourselves and not for God, we are never responsible. We wash our hands of it. We hate our enemies. We spit on them in public because we can. We are not accountable to anyone. Or so we think…
And while my heart is still softening from the blow of a thousand knives, I feel a great joy. I have won. I still love her. I still feel compelled to pray for her. And now I have a reason to pray for her even more.
At the height of my hurt, this is how I know I’ve changed. This is how I know Christianity is real.
I signed up for this- all of it. Forgiveness seventy times seven times. Mercy. Love thy neighbor. I want all of it. I want it to hurt until I get it right. I want Christ to pry open that wound so He can show me more of Himself. I want that wound over and over again because it draws me closer to His sacred heart and perfects my love of souls, the ones that do not know Him.
I am certain that like St. Paul, this is the thorn in my side. I don’t think the pain of losing someone that important in your life ever goes away. But that thorn is grace, all grace because it’s what keeps you from forgetting who you are, and who you belong to. It makes you remember that you do not belong to yourself.