It’s been four days since I saw you across the street, the first time in years. We made eye contact, both holding a stare upon one another. Although those few seconds were silent, except the noise of the small crowds separating you and I, the eye contact voiced so much. I smiled at you, thinking to myself that you look great. But I already knew this. I’ve seen your photos on Facebook. We were friends, actually. The internet said so.
So I was stunned when my smile was met head on with a frown. A frown that grasped the edge of a grimace. The sheer displeasure masking your face blasted me with ugly emotions, making me look away from your mean stare.
It took me a long minute to understand that your look was a silent burn directed at me. That realization made my eyes run far from you. Instantly, confusion and awkwardness fueled a heavy dose of self-consciousness to pull at my chest. My heart was quelling for flight.
After a few heavy beats, I forced myself to look back across the street. It’s the masochist in me. In search of you, my eyes shot in every direction, but you were gone. My pride silently cried out; pleading to be rescued by the benefit of doubt. Maybe this person didn’t recognize me? (You do love filters, Sarah.)
Embarrassment nearly gobbled me whole admitting that my pride was front and center to that theory’s swift beheading. Because a little while later, you walked directly past me, a distance of six feet or less, with a scorned look centered right at my face. When I blink, I can still see your despise. You knew it was me. No assumption about it; the obvious trumped any benefit I could possibly muster.
In the days that followed our encounter, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dictate some (or a lot) of my mental space to trying to map how I hurt your feelings. Anger (that scornful look) is the face of hurt. Was it something I said in high school? Again, it’s been years… Maybe if I went on a week of solid exploration I could probably pin-point the grievance, but lets face it—who has that kind of time? I’m currently living in a land ruled by four kids, who believe I can sleep when I’m dead. My memory barely has the length of yesterday.
So in my attempt to understand, I felt gravity in this encounter. This felt like one of those moments—when experience fights the battle for you.
I have learned in the years since becoming a full-fledged adult that I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. But that didn’t stop every part of me from wanting to hug you, screaming we’re really making it! Look how far we’ve come since high school. We’ve got homes, jobs, children…we are in the very midst of building our legacies. I wanted to say this to you, because, sigh…this life is hard enough. Everyone needs hugs and affirmations.
My own cowardliness robbed me and my disappointment felt suffocating standing across from you.
I have also learned how heavy grudges are to carry through life. I’m not displacing blame, or discrediting the feelings behind your angry facade towards me. But what I am saying is this…
Grudges, ugh. They. Are. Heavy.
I promise you, I’m not worth the exorbitant weight it holds. Because even if I sank to my knees, clasped my hands together, and begged at your feet for a solid hour asking for your forgiveness it still wouldn’t be enough. My apology, any act of restitution, could never be enough. Because I am simply not enough. I am not worthy of you being held hostage, a victim of anger. No one is.
Forgiveness is never for the people who hurt you. It’s for yourself, because you are enough. It means you are no longer willing to be prisoner to the hurt. Forgiveness is a choice.
Today, I woke up and chose to forgive myself, releasing myself of the guilt summoned by your dirty look. I cannot change the past, nor unwind vines of hurt I have spun, but I can choose to be better, live greater today. I can choose to live by doing the next right thing. Because, sigh…this life is hard enough. We all need grace.
Next time, if we ever see each other again, I’m going to smile again. I hope you’ll smile back.