I love this photo. It reminds me of my last birthday. The big Four-Five.
It also reminds me of my ‘amazing’ ability to feel two opposing emotions at one time.
I was full of joy because I had just spent the day with my family in one of my favorite cities—Seattle, Washington. We took the train up that morning and were able to squeeze all kinds of fun in a short amount of time. (Gum Wall, anyone?)
It was a perfect day, temperature-wise, and the overcast weather was great for taking photos. Everywhere I looked, the city came alive for me. I was so happy with the images I captured.
Yes, I have a thing for taking photos on an angle. Drives Geoff and Chelsea crazy. What can I say? That’s how creative side expresses itself. (Grin.)
My apologies if viewing some of my photos causes you to feel as though you have vertigo!
The only dark cloud that day was my extreme and utter irritation. With my husband. (Frown.)
Five minutes after I snapped this photo, we were back in King Street Station, waiting for our train to take us back home to Portland, Oregon.
Geoff took one look at me and knew something was wrong. Admittedly, I was totally and completely peeved with my sweet man. Which, honestly, doesn’t happen very often.
We’ve worked through all kinds of challenges together over the years. Through it all, we’ve learned how to talk through just about anything without getting upset.
Given that it was my birthday, I really didn’t want to be upset.
With him, or anyone for that matter.
But, most definitely not with him.
But, I was.
I tried desperately to hold back my tears as sat in the uncomfortable, plastic chairs, surrounded by a sea of strangers. And, our three children watching our interaction curiously to my left.
In an effort to avoid my husband’s curious gaze, I looked down at the white paper bag from the deli we had stopped at to purchase our dinner. We had literally ran back to the train station to meet our group.
I took a deep breath, then let out a sigh as a tear rolled down my cheek. This was the last place I wanted to have an emotional conversation with my husband. My emotions, however, wouldn’t obey my desire for privacy.
A train station? Really?!?
“Are you upset with me?” he asked. His tone told me he already knew the answer.
I felt so pathetic as I told him how hurt I was by
his behavior how I interpreted his behavior all day. Because, as I did, I saw the look of hurt in his eyes.
I felt hurt and triggered. And, when I expressed my feelings to him, he, likewise, felt hurt and triggered.
Needless to say, the talk didn’t go well. In fact, we spent most of the train ride home with almost zero interaction. Again, not like us at all.
We were both feeling emotionally raw.
We were both feeling completely misunderstood.
It was one of those situations where you wish you could go back and unsay what you said. Or, at the very least, interpret your loved one’s behavior with more insight and grace. But, sadly, that only came with hindsight.
I’ll spare you the details. The gist of the story is that when we were finally able to communicate—without an audience—it really was a matter of misinterpretation.
Both us felt strong emotions and were unable to see or understand where the other was coming from. Looking back, it was a great learning experience for both of us.
As much as we would have preferred to skip that particular lesson, it was important for our relationship to be further refined and strengthened.
One of the first lessons Brené shares is the idea that we are all doing the best we can.
As infuriated as we can get with each other over behavior or choices, it’s invaluable to allow each other the grace and understanding that at any given moment, we are truly doing the best we can.
Accepting that as fact, or simply as reality, can be difficult—to say the least. Brené shares with vulnerability in her book of her own struggle to accept her counselor’s observation.
As I look back at our day in Seattle, I was doing the best I could.
Yes, I interpreted my husband’s behavior incorrectly. I didn’t recognize the burden he was carrying. And, I shared my feelings the best I could.
In short, I bungled it up pretty good. But, looking back, I’m choosing to give myself grace. I’m choosing to believe I did the best I could that day.
Likewise, I can give my husband grace that he was doing the best he could.
Yes, I wish he’d been able to share his feelings with me earlier. I wish we’d both been able to communicate more honestly before we ended up in a heap of painful words and emotions.
But, that didn’t happen. We both had done the best we could, at that time. (Deep breath.)
How does that fit for you, Friend?
I encourage you to think of a situation (past or present) in which another person hurt or upset you. Are you able to view it differently through the lens of, “They were doing the best they could?”
It might take time to embrace the idea. But, there is grace and freedom to be found.
For myself, I know the grace I desperately desire from those I’ve hurt or let down.
Likewise, I long to be a giver of grace and forgiveness.
I’m so thankful God graciously enables me to do what I can’t do on my own.
IMPORTANT: If you (or someone else) is being hurt or abused, it is absolutely critical to remove yourself from a dangerous situation and seek immediate help. Yes, grace and forgiveness may be given, but please do the right thing and seek immediate help.
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Photo Credit: Amy Jo Ivey / “King Street Station Clock Tower” / Seattle, WA / April 21, 2015