This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a while. I was having lunch with one of my best friends from high school this week and shared the idea with her and she remembered a difficult conversation we had had during the period mentioned below. It served as confirmation to me that I should share it. I hope it’s received in the spirit with which it’s intended! ~ Rick
Dear Family and Friends,
There aren’t all that many things I regret in life. For the most part I have tried to live by treating others as I would want to be treated. I have sought to be respectful of others and their opinions. I have tried to be generous and kind. I have wanted to be fair and gracious. While I think I have done reasonably well, there was a period of my life that I know I wasn’t very gracious. I wasn’t very kind. I was zealous and perhaps even rabid in the way I shared and defended my beliefs. I was passionate…but I wasn’t very tactful. At times I was downright mean.
I don’t remember everyone I offended. I don’t remember all the people I lambasted. But I know it is more than I care to remember. And I’m sorry. I am really, truly sorry. I ask your forgiveness. I wish I had known then what I’ve learned over the years and would have communicated the same truths in a loving, gracious way. I wish I would have been more respectful of the ways we differed. I wish I wouldn’t have been so judgmental – whether you were wrong or not, I was wrong in the way I communicated and treated you.
I don’t know how many people I might have turned off to ideas they might have been open to listening to or discussing. I don’t know how many people heard me and tossed me into the category of hypocrite or extreme fundamentalist. I’m not really worried about those labels anyway; I’m more concerned that the deep, important truths I believed then and continue to believe now were marginalized or ignored because I was a poor messenger. And I deeply regret that.
I recognize that even if I had spoken with words full of grace and tact we might have left the conversation with different beliefs. I know that I may not have convinced you of anything. I don’t mind that. But I am concerned that maybe you walked away doubting my love for you or my part in our friendship. I fear that my actions may have led you to reject the things I believe, not on their merit or lack thereof, but because of me.
So, please, please forgive me. Please know that with time comes (at least sometimes) wisdom. If I did offend you, perhaps you’ll tell me and we can sit down over a cup of coffee and I can apologize in person. We don’t even have to revisit our original conversation unless you want to get some things off your chest! It would be great just to spend time together and talk.