Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: The Shards of Glass

Today I'm linking up with Joy's life, unmasked, where we share the messy and the beautiful of our lives. We watch together as God works through it. I unmask in letters, but I hope you'll come share however you best tell the miraculous story of you.

Dear Hilary,

Not long ago I had this really hard conversation. I did a brave thing, and I didn't think I'd ever be able to. But see, here is the thing. I keep thinking of a hundred things I should have said. I can't stop this voice in my head from telling me - you should have been nicer. You shouldn't have said those harsh words. You shouldn't have gotten angry. You shouldn't have been hurt. I can replay all of it in my head - the unspoken words swim alongside the ones I actually offered. I watch all the versions of this conversation float past, and they scold me. It was stupid of you to say something. That's what they keep telling me.

Can you help me?


Dear Rewinding,

I dropped a glass not long ago. It shattered into a thousand tiny fragments on the floor of my kitchen and the initial crash made me scream with surprise. I watched as the glass flew in every direction, into dark corners and under cabinets, into places I couldn't reach or see. I stood there, shocked and surprised, as the dust settled and the water dripped from the table onto the floor.

Hard conversations are like broken glass. They fly into a thousand pieces after we've had them - we drop the news, announce the decision, make the move, slide off the chair, out the door, into the hard bright light of what's next - and just then, we watch as it scatters with a huge crash. Everything we thought we knew? Everything that sounded so good at the time, so wise, so thoughtful? It shatters. Our confidence in the conversation cracks. We stand, stock-still and trembling, in front of those doubting voices and we think: what have I done?

I'm going to guess that your conversation involved saying hard honest words. It probably involved heartbreak on your part. It probably involved an ultimatum. The wisest advice columnist I know,  Dear Sugar - she says that ultimatums are good things. Oh, she is so right about this. We assume that those confrontations, those moments of saying, I want this and I don't want that and I cannot continue like this anymore - that they are mean, or harmful, or somehow selfish. And the voices in your head screech loud and clear that you were stupid to say something because they measure the worth of hard things by the immediate pain, not the ultimate importance. 

So let's talk about what is happening now. The glass has shattered. You had the big crash and the shock. You felt the cold water dripping onto your feet. You cried about it. You yelled about it. And you picked up a broom and started to sweep the floor clean. 

This is an important, necessary and good moment. The largest pieces of glass are off the floor. It's safe to walk around with shoes on, treading carefully. You said your piece. You spoke the hidden things into being. You swept the floor. 

But when glass shatters it leaves many more tiny shards behind. They hide between cracks in the floorboards and in the small corners of the room. They linger under cabinets, or under the table. Every once in a while, Rewinding, you are going to walk across the floor and feel the prick of a shard of glass. Maybe it's an story that someone tells that makes you question what you said or did. Maybe it's an idea that you can't imagine not telling them. It can be small, or large, a moment or a long string of moments. You won't be expecting it, and when you step on it there will be a sting.

But I do promise you that as you keep sweeping that floor, the tiny shards of glass will work their way out. You won't always stumble or be stung by memories. And you keep walking across the floor, and sweeping the surprise and the hurt through the door. I believe this about you as surely as I believe anything, love, because you are already strong enough to know you should stop rewinding. Don't condemn yourself because it was hard; love yourself because of that. Don't second guess the conversation; trust instead that the shards of glass will work their way out.

Trust how much you learn by sweeping the floor a thousand times.

Life: Unmasked


  1. Such true, beautiful words. I found your lovely blog through Life:Unmasked and ever so glad I did. 

  2. Thank you, Sarah! I'm so glad you stopped by. You're welcome here anytime. And I'm glad I found you through Life: Unmasked, too!

  3. Tanya Marlow @ Thorns and GoldMarch 14, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Wow. I LOVE the imagery of the glass shattering to describe a difficult conversation. That's so helpful. It's so hard to find those little shard-y pieces...

    I'm loving this Life:Unmasked thing! It's great read blogs like yours. I also stopped by from Joy's blog (I wrote on M.E. relapses and mountain climbing) - nice to see you.

  4. Thank you, Tanya! I'm really thankful for Life, Unmasked too - it's a great way to read some lovely writing. 


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