Back in February we returned to our old town for three action packed days filled with appointments with the financial planners, accountants, doctors, and to visits with two family members who, each are in the midst of battling stage four breast cancer.  While there, an old neighbor told us that another neighbor was having health issues but wanted to keep this quiet for the time being.  Since no details were given I decided to respect what I thought were their wishes and did not reach out to either the wife or husband.

And that is where I was wrong.

Arriving home, I returned to the task of rewrites for my new book, Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It hurts, creating the new website, learning about marketing, preparing for tax day and spending time with the grand kids.  I was immersed in life, being totally self-absorbed in my own life.  I did think of my neighbor from the South but always hesitated to reach out, not wanting to intrude.

As part of the marketing for the book I am in the process of reaching out to everyone in my contacts list and so I did to this person.  She was upset that I had been informed but not reached out until now.  And she was right.  While I thought I was respecting her wishes I certainly could have sent a simple text stating that I had heard she was unwell and that I was keeping her in prayer.  I should have and I could have, but I did not. And no amount of apology changed how she felt at the time of our exchange.  She was hurt, felt isolated, unimportant.  I didn’t set out to hurt her, there was no malice or forethought.  But that is exactly what I did.

I regret my thoughtlessness, my selfishness, and my self-centeredness.  I know what it’s like to undergo the onslaught of medical mayhem.  Heck, I have written a book about it and how to survive it.  But in this case, I did not take my own advice.

My neighbor doesn’t need thoughtless people.  She doesn’t need to feel alone and uncared for.

I am sorry.  So heartily sorry.

After spending some time thinking about it and giving prayerful consideration I felt I needed to share this, not to seek absolution, but because it is a teachable moment and if my sharing this will spare someone else from doing what I did, then it is worth baring my sin.

So what do you do when you have hurt someone?

  • Acknowledge that these actions hurt this person
  • Apologize
  • Clarify that this was a mistaken thought process
  • Describe the state of guilt and remorse and ask for forgiveness without expectation that it will be given.
  • Ask God to forgive you for your transgression.
  • Describe the teachable moment – what have I learned from this experience?
  • Realize this may cause a shift in the relationship and be willing to accept the outcome.
  • Pray for peace for both of you, but especially for the one that is hurt. Pray for healing.

While I could use the excuse of publishing my book, my concerns for my family battling their own health wars, or wanting to respect this neighbor’s privacy; it would have been better to have reached out even if just in a simple text.  So what if she doesn’t answer?  She has more important things to do.  Better I would be rebuffed than her to feel rebuffed by me.  At least she would know I care.

So if you are reading this, don’t do what I did.  Reach out and show you care.  Tell them you will pray for them and their family.  And then do so.  Because whether or not she hears your prayers – God does.  And that is what will make all the difference.

Spare the hurt – share a moment – you’ll be glad you did.

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