I once spent a week with a new friend I’ll call Lisa. Several decades older than me, she exuded love and wisdom. We were enjoying each other so much, until one day I shared something precious from my heart and she responded clumsily, hurtfully. Stung, I wanted to pull back, shut down, protect myself, share not quite so deeply anymore.
But that night I “saw” a new angel I’d never seen before. It was hugging me and apologizing on Lisa’s behalf. “Lisa is so clumsy!” said the angel. “She is always stepping on people and hurting their feelings like that, and she never ever means to, and she never ever wants to, and she has no idea when she does it, and whenever she finds out that she did it, she is so sorry and so eager to make it better. But she is so clumsy that I have been assigned to minister to the people that she accidentally bumps into or steps on!”
That made me laugh in spite of myself, the idea that poor Lisa was so clumsy that she needed (and had) a special angel assigned just to comfort the people whose toes she stepped on and help make it right. How generous our heavenly Father is with our weaknesses, to send and assign angels like that!
“Please talk to Lisa about it,” pleaded the angel. “Please tell her she hurt you. She didn’t mean to, and she doesn’t know, and I promise she’ll be so glad you told her and so eager to make it right. Please don’t pull back from her. Please don’t give up on her. Please give her a chance, just one chance, to know what happened and make it right. I promise she won’t be mad if you tell her. I promise she won’t hurt you. Please try.”
I was pretty scared. There were only a few relationships in which I felt secure enough to say something negative like that, and they were people I had been close to for years, not just a week. I didn’t want to risk telling Lisa I was hurt and risk her responding in a way that hurt even more. I wanted to cut my losses and protect myself. And I knew I would never have talked to Lisa about it if an angel hadn’t pleaded with me to.
Which I guess is why the angel showed up.
Because I could feel that I only had two options: I could pull back from Lisa and be a little less open, a little less close, a little more superficial, or I could tell her she hurt me. But I couldn’t stay open and keep drawing near without telling her that she’d made me feel unsafe. I had to make one of those two choices. And this angel kept begging me to choose the brave one.
“But I don’t know what to say!” I protested.
“You don’t need to say much,” the angel reassured me. “You just need to get the three words out, ‘I felt hurt.’ That’s all. That’s enough. I promise that if you say that much, Lisa will take care of the rest. Please, just give her one chance. Just one. Just give her one chance to show you that she won’t retaliate or respond hurtfully if you tell her you felt hurt. I promise one chance will be enough. Just give her one chance to show you whether or not you can trust her with this. Please try.”
I wanted to try, but having made that uncomfortable decision, I also didn’t want to think about it anymore until morning! The angel offered to hold me while I slept. “Doesn’t Lisa need you?” I asked. The angel said that Lisa was safely asleep and, since she couldn’t accidentally step on anybody’s feelings while she was asleep, the angel had free time until she woke up! So I gratefully let it wrap its arms around me and give me that peaceful angel-hug feeling that made me fall asleep.
A few hours before I got up, I was vaguely aware of the angel whispering, “I have to go now” and I could hear that Lisa had gotten up and was making phone calls. The angel was back on duty!
After I got up and had breakfast, I went and sat on the sofa beside Lisa’s chair. “I wanted to share something with you,” I said, and was immediately relieved that now I had committed myself and couldn’t chicken out. “I felt a little hurt last night, by your response when I said… That stung a little and made me wonder if it was really safe to share with you like that.”
“Oh no!” said Lisa. “I am SO sorry. You are absolutely right, I shouldn’t have responded like that. Will you please forgive me?”
Oh. Angels are smart. Just give her one chance. I promise it will be enough.
“I forgive you,” I said.
“Come here!” she said. “Give me a big hug!”
“I was responding out of fear,” she explained. “I usually am, when I respond inappropriately. I’ve seen so many people start our serving God and then crash and burn, and I didn’t want that to happen to you, so I just wanted to warn you of everything that could go wrong. But I shouldn’t do that. I should trust Him about you and only give advice if you ask for it. And,” she added, “if I ever do that again, tell me right away so I can say I’m sorry sooner and then it will only have to hurt for about two minutes instead of all night long!”
I didn’t even look to see if I could see where that angel was standing in the room and whether it was smiling or winking or wiping its forehead in relief or grinning “I told you so!” because I was too busy enjoying Lisa again. All the yucky feelings were gone. I was so, so glad I had given Lisa a chance, because I didn’t think I’d ever met anyone who responded so well! And maybe the next time I needed to be that brave, I’d have a good memory to remember, a good picture in my mind of what the person’s response could be instead of a scary one.
The opposite of clumsiness is grace. Maybe there is a special assignment of grace when we are extra clumsy, a special spirit of grace assigned to help us respond like Jesus, His power shining through our weakness like a light bulb through a thin lampshade, the light streaming through the cracks in the jars. Decades of living by grace and receiving grace and giving grace had made Lisa like that. And I was so grateful I didn’t give way to fear in the face of her fear and throw the gift of her intimacy away. I was so grateful God sent an angel to intercept me and tell me to be brave enough to find out how safe I really was with her. God is amazing like that.
Is there a place in your life where you need to speak truth to someone, or give grace to someone? Or maybe to yourself?
You can ask your Father to send His angels to help you with that, instead of being afraid.