Monday, March 31, 2008

This should be something on a soap opera, not part of my life

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on a wall and listen to people talk about you?

Have you ever had someone tell you they listened to you yell at your kids, sing along to the radio in the car or some other embarrassing thing on their voice mail after you inadvertently dialed them on your cell?

Can you see where this is going yet?

When I called my friend, I heard, “Oh it's Mike, I’ll have to call him back.” But the thing was, he answered it. Because if he hadn’t I wouldn’t have heard that. So then, I can only assume the phone went back in the pocket or onto the table and the conversation that I interrupted continued. Only now I was there as a silent listener. At first I thought he was finishing up a conversation, so I patiently waited. But then he started talking about me to the other person. This was not necessarily unexpected as I had called who I considered one of my very best friends. But the nature of the conversation was very disturbing. As conflicted as I was with guilt from feeding my inner voyeur, I couldn’t hang up the phone. I sat for a half hour with my handset hovering above disconnect button. Every time I would resolve to take my leave, I would hear my name again.

I won’t dredge up the details of the call and what was said about me, but it would have been shockingly unsettling if overheard between two acquaintances of mine. Since one of the people was someone who I spoke to several times a week, trusted, and spared no unpleasant detail of my life with, the experience was simply gut-wrenching. This was someone who I had seriously contemplated going into business with at some time in future. My skin is probably about as thick as skin gets (probably 98th percentile among those with skin), but that crushed me. With each judgment, each hateful comment I felt my stomach tighten into knots. I’m not one to shed tears apart from a very emotional episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but as I evaluated my state of mind I was mildly surprised at the dryness of my eyes. There was anger at the betrayal I felt, obvious hurt, conviction from the cold truth in some of the comments that were made, but mostly shock. I imagine I resembled a deer in headlights as the conversation reached its natural end after about 40 minutes or so.

When I finally hung up, amazingly all I could think about was how kind my God is and has been through all my life. That hard 40 minutes was infinitely preferable to damage I could have done to my life had I gone on oblivious to what was revealed to me. This was someone I had come to rely on far too much. Also, no one can rail against you for that amount of time and not stumble into a little bit of truth. It’s one thing to learn from the critiques your friends have the courage to share with you. It’s quite a bit more challenging to learn how they really feel when they can talk about you with impunity. God has already begun showing me things:

  • That He is faithful, even more so than a trusted friend.
  • That He is my shield and defender and the keeper of my life, even if it means some short-term discomfort.
  • That He is a adept purveyor of coincidence (Seriously, it’s not like this guy doesn’t know how to use a cell phone. What are the chances that I would call to interrupt the very conversation I most needed to hear? To think, a little while ago he actually bought that cell phone from me… adept purveyor indeed)
  • That iron sharpening iron isn’t always what you think it is.
  • That I tend to trust people with too much too soon. Then again I kinda knew that already.

But those are my lessons. It’s a little bit unlike me to post something like this, but it’s an interesting story and the 6 or 7 people that read this blog are people who I’d want to share it with. Really this isn’t a story about betrayal. If Hollywood made it into a little movie, that’s definitely what it would be about. To me this story shows the creativity of my God. And of how He is such a good long-term thinker. Seeing my life from the perspective of eternity lends itself to that. One other lesson: if you’re going to gossip, make sure your cell phone is off.

7 comments:

Cutzi said...

Wow.

I can only imagine your shock to hear this, as I was utterly shocked to read it.

Sorry doesn't seem quite appropriate so.... hm.

I am so thankful that you are a man who knows God's truth and are able to take a blatantly hurtful situation and see it from God's loving and merciful perspective. I am thankful that, when we listen to Him, God uses such things to teach us and to 'sharpen' us - even though it is hard. I am thankful that your strength is in the Lord and while for many others, this betrayal may have embittered them, you have chosen instead to say, "Yes, Lord. You were right. Men will fail us. But You never do."

Psalm 20

Stacy said...

Mike,

I am outraged for you. And SO sorry.

I just got done telling Amy that *I* would love to be a fly on the wall for when you tell said person that you happened to overhear that conversation.

This is what I am thankful for:
That you are a godly man of good character.
Full of integrity and honesty.

Contrast that with said person, who is full of... something quite different.

~Stacy

Mark said...

Wow... I can't believe you heard that conversation. I really thought I'd hung up the phone before I said those things about you. But it sounds like you're handling it okay and are actually using this as an opportu.... Wait a minute ... you said "cell phone" didn't you? Sooo... Since I don't have a cell I guess you're probably not talking about me and that time I was talking to.... Yeah, well, uh ... nevermind.

Seriously, what a bummer. I wouldn't have hung up either.

Nikki said...

That's rough... I'm sorry that you had to overhear something like that, but I'm glad and impressed that you can see the good and work of God in it. It's a hard thing to find God's hand in the tougher parts of life.
Your good attitude is inspiring!

Terry said...

How awful! It's one thing if it's a casual acquaintance, but I'm sure hearing such things from a trusted friend had to be gut-wrenching. Your reaction to it is inspiring, however. You seem to have taken it pretty well, remembering that people can and will fail us, which is something we would all do well to remember from time to time. Be blessed!

Jenny in Ca said...

I am so sorry for your hurt, I can imagine how horrible that moment would be...and I am praying to God that I learn from your story and never do the same to a friend. I think we all feel that gossip is wrong, and yet it can be so easy to say way too much and show off way too much opinion and judgment of others.

I think you are brave to re-tell the story here, and to share what you learned from the episode.
thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto this from another blog that had a link to it.

I read it and started thinking of the things I would say back if it were me. Then I read what your thoughts were in the end....I needed to hear that today. "Living in light of eternity" is hard, but how we need to be viewing all of life. God is good all the time! thanks you for sharing this, as hard as it was...it is good.