Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

Remember that Don Henley song from a few years back? What a great song. It was one of those rare secular songs that delve into something deep and climb the charts.

Anyway, as the song goes I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter, but I think it's about forgiveness...

I find myself face to face with a situation at work that I thought was in the past. In May, I inadvertently offended someone by making a request that some things of mine be returned to me. She chewed me out. I apologized. She continued to shout and accuse. I tried to relate to her situation. She shoved what I shared back in my face. I concluded with a hug and a promise to pray for her circumstances. It went over like a lead balloon. It's much more complex than all that, but you get the picture. I became a pariah amongst a small group of coworkers who took sides, and received the stink eye and cold shoulder from them. I was only relieved of that once they learned my husband had been diagnosed with cancer. It's always so nice to be pitied. :P

Two days ago, I learned that I'm going to have to work with the person who took the most offense once again. This was unexpected, and because nothing was ever resolved I am dreading this like you wouldn't believe. You see, I know I have to forgive her for losing her temper with me. But, I want an apology. This is not the first time that a coworker has lost their temper with me and said hurtful things. Some women seem to think this is acceptable in the workplace. I don't, and I don't allow myself to act on feelings like that at work. It's unprofessional and hurtful. But, if it does occur - everyone slips up occasionally - then one must apologize. Right? Wouldn't you?

So, I've been lambasted three times by coworkers over the years, and I have never received an apology in the aftermath. It has always been up to me to suck it up and act like I'm fine.

But, I'm not fine.

This really hurts me.

Work no longer seems like a safe place. It seems like a mine field.

Why can't people realize the value in an apology? I found a great article here about that very thing. I found myself saying YES! YES! while reading it.

Wise women, how should I handle this?


AprilMay said...

I am not wise by any means! But I will say that I do not think you will get an apology. It stinks, but you will have to do the best you can to get along with this person. ICK! I wish you didn't have to deal with this! Just in case...I would keep a record of any altercation that may happen in the event that you have to take it to a mediator/principal. KWIM? I REALLY hope that doesn't happen! I will pray that you do receive an apology and that this person will be a changed woman/man this year!

Paula said...

I agree with the previous commenter, I don't think you'll get an apology. I read this about forgiveness today and I thought you might like it too:
Forgiveness is difficult for many of us to comprehend. How can a man spend 11 years in prison after being wrongly convicted and not be angry but forgiving? Forgiveness is not saying that what was done was okay. It is not letting the person who hurt you off the hook of the responsibility for what they did. It is not making it okay for the other person; it is making your life okay. Forgiveness is freeing your spirit, heart and mind. Forgiveness is taking care of you and restoring your relationship with God to wholeness.

Alex and Jill said...

Well, I will tell you what I do when hurt by someone. I'm not saying that I am able to do this overnight, but when I'm able to truly forgive someone for wrong-doing towards me, I treat them as though it never happened. With or without an apology, I believe that true forgiveness is treating the person as though they never wronged you. Doesn't mean you have to be best friends with the person, but you can be civil and work with them. I base this off of how Christ forgave me. I'm a sinner saved by grace. Something I don't deserve by any means, but He forgives me and treats me as though it never happened. And He does it over and over again. Thank you, Lord! :)

And if you are able to forgive and treat her as though it never happened, maybe she will see a difference in you and she herself will change. But even if she doesn't, you can feel good about how you've treated her.

Praying for you, girl. I know it's not easy.


fuzzandfuzzlet said...

I agree with the previous posters. It is doubtful that you will get an apology.

An adult women who has such an outburst is probably not at a place where she can or will apologize. It sounds like she has a lot of internal conflict.

Whatever she said to you was probably a reflection of how she felt about herself. You were just the closest target.

Not everyone was cut out to be friends. We oft have to have professional relationships with people we would never, ever chose as friends. I think that is when we have to put on our professional mask and simply make it work.

I think you should write a note to this person. Tell her everything you think and feel. Tell her you demand an apology and list all of the reasons you deserve the apology. Then tear the note up and throw it away.

Then be done with it. Remind yourself that you do not have the emotional energy to waste worrying about it.

Joannah said...

Great advice, ladies.

Tomorrow I will put it into practice.

Calico Sky said...

Oh Joannah, I am sorry you have had this happen. I know you are a Christian, so for us apologizing is absolutely crucial, we practice it by repenting to the Lord, we know how important it is to say sorry and forgive. What can be hard is that others don't do that in return. I have had that experience twice this year, once a friend I helped out a LOT (I paid bills for her, basically saved her around $1000 because she was in a tough spot and it was the right thing to do, she then got a job raise and didn't pay back, here I am saving to adopt, obeying the Lord by helping those in need and I felt so used. She never apologized and boy did I want it!). She wasn't a Christian so I guess I was able, in the end, to put it aside and accept. The second experience was a Christian who spread a rumor that I was going to ask a guy in my Church out and I was madly in love with him, this caused *a lot* of problems as it wasn't true, we work together (so had the potential of really interfering with work aswell), and there was someone else (who I blogged about). When I studied scripture about what to do it said to go to the person on your own, so I did. I waited 10 days until my emotions were less "raw", and gently told her that people had told me she was saying X and that it wasn't true. She did not apologize said she was only telling people because she was worried about me (interesting worrying about me lead her to tell over 20 people I was throwing myself at a guy!) and then shunned me at Church. Having this reaction from a fellow believer was very very very tough. I wanted to point out what she'd done wrong Biblically, tell her how she should have reacted etc. But the only thing that got me through was knowing it is ONLY MY actions that make me accountable to the Lord, He will deal with everyone else's sins, I have to deal with mine. There was nothing I did that was against Bible teaching - I was kind, compassionate, never raised my voice, didn't tell other people or gossip about her. That is all I can control. I know He will give me the grace to go on and even when this woman shuns me now, I still smile at her, thank her etc. Not easy for the first week but it got easier and easier.

I'll be praying for you. Keep praying for grace, patience and strength. I know you can deal with this, and be a shining example to us all!



Donna said...


I'll be honest - I think you need to put any expectations of an appology completely out of your head. There are people who are simply not nice and the sad reality is that the world is full of them.

One of my favorite quotes is "Pain is inevitable but misery is optional." She's responsible for the pain but it's you who is causing yourself the misery. If this whole situation is interfering with your happiness, you need to try a different internal message.

There are plenty of things you could do that would probably make this worse. Personally, I'd just fake it and be professional and courteous and nice but keep some safe distance from her, emotionally.

I wish the world had more nice people like you. Sure would be a happier place - for all of us.

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