A few days ago I did something necessary, something I had obsessed about for months, something I had meditated on, prayed over, asked advice about. I won’t talk about the particulars, because the person involved doesn’t need to be exposed. It was something I knew might cause emotional pain, and I truly did everything I could think of, and came up with the best solution possible, in the hopes this person, whom I’ll call X, and whom I love, wouldn’t be hurt.
Alas, best intentions and all that. I have caused harm. And oh, that hurts me. It burns.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could go through life without ever hurting anyone? Wouldn’t it be grand to be able to lie on our final bed, look skyward, and say: I am innocent of causing any harm. But, no one gets that, do they? Every one of us is harmed during the course of a life, and every one of us causes harm, whether we mean to or not.
Perhaps this is part of the mysterious Sacred plan. Perhaps it is part of the lesson of forgiveness. I doubt X will forgive me, however, I hope they will, not only because it would feel nice to be forgiven, but also because forgiveness allows harm to slide away into the mists and bother us no longer, and I wish that for X. I hope the barbs of this hurt will dissolve and be no more.
It is important to know what it feels like to cause pain to someone. Even in circumstances in which what one did was necessary, and in which one didn’t mean to cause harm, sometimes it is still unavoidable. I must accept that. Be responsible for it. I must do what is possible to mitigate that pain, and sometimes I must accept nothing will mitigate it.
Knowing how rotten it feels to cause harm means I grow empathy for someone who’s hurt me. I don’t mean the deliberate abuser — not sure I could ever understand what they feel, although forgiveness (not reconciliation) is still the best option for my own mental health — but the person who has erred, or done the required thing, or forgot, or something, and the unintended result has been pain. Having done the same thing myself, I can look at the person who hurt me with some gentleness.
We are the same, I can say. Aren’t we all terrible bumblers? Aren’t we all a bit of a mess? Aren’t we all clumsy?
To feel pain, and to unintentionally inflict it, are two of the more uncomfortable parts of life, but a part of life they are. I try to live my life hurting the fewest number of people possible. Being human, I fail.
Knowing I am capable of not only being hurt but inflicting it as well keeps me humble, keeps me reaching out for grace and the opportunity to understand my fellows better, and to do better in the future.