So last week, I had the unanticipated experience of being reminded that one of my not-so-smooth edges is still, well, rough. And unfortunately, a friend was on the receiving end of the encounter.
It was my first week back at work after a glorious summer vacation (more about that another time, hopefully), and my colleagues and I had attended an “interesting” in-service (feel free to interpret the word in quotation marks with a derogatory slant). In a rare moment of inspiration, I decided to write an ironic response, and I had only an hour to crank it out. So, I hurried to my new office space, perched on the chair inside my little cubicle (which, by the way, is surrounded by three other little cubicles, all jammed into what used to be a classroom . . . the very picture of unnecessarily close quarters) and began writing furiously, hoping to finish the piece so that I could share it with one of my colleagues. I was doing one of my favorite things—creating, writing, in the zone, actually experiencing the rare instance of crafting something that might make someone else laugh.
Things were flowing smoothly, and it looked as if I would finish just in time, when one of my friends walked in to see my new digs. Now, this is someone I care about, someone whose company I enjoy, a person whose friendship I value. And how did I respond to her willingness to take time out of her schedule, track down my new campus location, and say hello?
I treated her like an interruption.
Like an irritant, instead of the important friend that she is in my life.
Fortunately, t took only a few minutes to realize that my rough edges had made themselves highly visible. So I apologized. More than once. Because it—no,I—was that unpleasant.
And my friend, being her typically gracious self, quickly accepted my apologies. We will be fine, I’m sure. And because she is who she is, I’m confident that our relationship will resume as it was before.
But I now have a snapshot of the not-so-wonderful person that I clearly have the potential to be.
And I’m left with a lesson, or two:
One is that the dear people God has gifted me with are abundantly more important than amusing words, than the fleeting (and ego-boosting) achievement of making someone laugh. So when I’m in the midst of a project, working furiously, and one of those gifts appears at my door, I must remember the value of that person. Even though my driven, type-A, finish-the-task personality will tell me otherwise, I must remind myself to stop, to welcome, to savor the blessing of that relationship. I simply must remember.
The unfortunately reality, though, is that I won’t. I won’t always remember. Because the rough edges are still there. And even though they’re being smoothed out over time, they will likely remain a very-real part of the patina that is not- -perfect-me.
When that happens, I hope I will ask for pardon and hope for the response that I received this week.
But—like I did the other day—I will need more than that. Because those rough edges are not just unfortunate; they are the on-the-surface-evidence of the deeper soul-deficit that will continue to exist until my final breath. I am flawed. I need forgiveness from my friend, from my Father.
Even though a friend can offer me the wonderful blessing of her forgiveness, He is the only one I know who gives the kind of grace that nurtures hope.
Hope for redemption.
Hope for restoration with my friend, with my Father.
Hope that this not-perfect girl can step into another day.
Clothed in His Holy.