Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In response

I've been going round and round about whether I should respond to a comment on the blog. There are plenty of good reasons not to do so. It's so easy to OVER react to the lack of emotional content carried in electronic communications. But the more I think about it the more I feel the need to respond. I would have done this privately but I can't figure out anyway of reaching this person except through where we met.

Which is right here.

Let me say at the start - this person said a very nice thing about me at the beginning of her comment and I thank her. This is also NOT personal since we don't know each other and aren't likely to meet (we live a long way apart).

It has to do with Angela, the youth ministry coordinator in Edmonton who is fighting leukemia. She posted recently about a person who had left comments that Angela just didn't find comforting or supportive. I responded with some flip but blunt comments (as I am wont to do) about such people and the hope that Angela would let it roll off her back.

Well apparently the person who made the comments (I have to take her word for it since Angela didn't identify them) took exception to my remarks and posted the following on my blog:

But I also want to say that when she posts about a friend who has given her brutal advice which she didn't need, she's actually referring to a comment that I left on her blog in love and care, hoping only that she will try her hardest to heal and return to her previous life of joy. So please be gentler in your responses when you don't know whose emotions are involved. I know it's hard to judge a situation from afar, and to be quite honest it's hard enough to judge it from right here in the middle of it, but you never know what words have actually been spoken and interpreted the wrong way. I'm sorry if this seems like an intrusion. Or a lecture. Not intended so. Just a sad friend praying for another sad friend who seems to think I've betrayed her.

Here are my thoughts:

First you need to know - I'm a middle aged guy married to his college sweetheart. Over the last 20 years she's developed one, then two, then three and now four chronic illnesses. A couple of which could be very nasty if they so chose. Which, God being gracious, they've not done so far.

In that time I've seen folks say silly things (and I've done it myself) to my wife or other sick people "trying to be helpful". Or be supportive or whatever. One thing I learned in the years I worked in the media is that perception IS reality. If your friend's perception is that you betrayed her, that your advice was brutal, then her reality is just that. No doubt her illness is playing a role in that, so what? Trust me as someone with long sad YEARS of experience in this - there is only one possible response if you love your friend. You apologize and you beg, BEG for forgiveness. Then, if they'll let you, you hold them in your arms, tell them you love them and ask if there's anything you can do.

And that's not what I'm hearing in your comment. You're upset that she's mad at you. You're upset that I'm being mean to you. It's all about you. Guess what? At this point in her life it's not about you. Not one tiny little bit. And it shouldn't be. It should be about your friend while she quite literally fights for her life.

Did she misinterpret you? Could be. Does that matter? No. What matters is that she's been hurt. By you. Intentionally or otherwise.

And the real question - what are you gonna do about it?



Anonymous said...

Here for your viewing, the betrayal:

"Jacqui said...
Alternatively you could just listen to what the fine people at the Cross are telling you, do what you need to in order to get better, and put this nightmare behind you.

Angela, just do what they want. They're trying to help you. And contrary to what you may think, all the people pushing you through with this are trying to do the same thing. Why? Because we love you. "

Just thought I'd bring a little perspective to the situation. I didn't think my comment would turn into this, but I guess that's just where we find ourselves.

Da Youth Guy said...

You're right to my ear and yours it doesn't sound like much. BUT WE'RE NOT THE POINT HERE!!! You continue to make this about you. Which means you continue to miss the point.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you think I'm making it about me. Probably on some level I am and I just can't see it. I guess my trouble is that in this situation, I don't have anything to give but words. I don't have the answer or the cure or anything but love.

You were bang on on one thing though - there is no way to judge emotion through electronic communication. Words alone have made it seem as though she was unbelievably angry at me, I was selfishly making it about myself, and you were bluntly voicing your thoughts on the subject. We're all probably so far from the truth it's unbelievable. I guess we'll never know. It just makes me sadder than I can say.

I'm sorry I've struck you the wrong way.

Da Youth Guy said...

My hope and prayer for you and Angela is that you find some way to fix whatever may need to be fixed. Only you and she know where that really stands.
I've made my living with words for almost 30 years. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is that sometimes what I have to offer is the "lack" of words. Because the words never come out right.

I'll keep you in my prayers.


Anonymous said...

Please remove the post.

Da Youth Guy said...

I've thought long and hard about this request.

The answer is no.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that you thought long and hard about it. I was hoping that, as love does not keep a record of wrongs, you would not either. I don't believe the world needs to be party to this struggle between myself and a friend. It does not help the situation in any way.

Da Youth Guy said...


Let's review for a second.

This began because YOU came to MY blog and left a note about a comment on a different blog. If you didn't want this dragged into a public forum you shouldn't have gone to one. If you had simply left it alone none of this would have happened.

Instead you chose seek comfort for YOUR hurt feelings from me. I chose then and choose now NOT to validate your hurt feelings because, as I've stated before, I believe you're wrong.

I'm leaving this up in the hope that it WILL help the situation in one simple way. That it will make you think. That you will stop making this about you and make it about Angela. There's also the possibility that someone else may learn something from all of this too but that's secondary. I'm leaving this up because I believe, based on my personal experience and long years in ministry, that you are making a mistake. That your mistake is hurting someone that you know and care for much better than I. And the belief that if I "give in" and take this all down you'll see that as validation of your point of view. In love I can do no other thing.

I've been willing to walk away from this at any time. I'll keep talking with you about this as long as you'd like. And you are the one who keeps this going. However like God's love I am relentless and I will keep asking you the same question.

What are you gonna do to fix this? You can't fix the problem here with me. You need to fix it there with her.