giving someone else an opportunity to make amends

Last week I did something that I was really proud of. I gave someone an opportunity to make amends. I posted about it on my LJ blog but here is a slightly revised version.


Yesterday was hard for me. I wasn’t sure why… and maybe that’s what made it extra hard. But something happened at work that kind of was a little miracle.

I went to the health center to get my flu shot after reading an email about a flu clinic. They don’t do it everyday. I walked in, filled out a form, and was told to wait. When I got in the room, the nurse asked me why I hadn’t come yesterday. I was caught off guard by the question and said that the email said that the vaccinations would be offered yesterday and today. The nurse proceeded to tell me that that’s not what the email said because she had written the email. I suggested that maybe I was thinking of a different email. She proceeded to tell me that she personally reviewed the email and was sure that it was right and would I like for her to show me the email? I said sure, why not? She led me to her office and proceeded to show me the email which had two rows that said

Tuesday, 19
Wednesday, 27

She asked why I thought that the above was unclear? I said I read it fast and assumed that the days were sequential. She made some comment about how she hoped that I didn’t do my work like that. I got offended and tried to say that perhaps the email could have been written clearer. (I do work in Health Education after all, I couldn’t resist…)  She told me that she has been doing this for years and never once was told that the above was unclear. She asked me  again what was unclear about it? I didn’t want to argue and mumbled something. At this point there was nothing to do other than go back to the other room and get the flu shot. She said something about getting the flu shot and I sternly said, I don’t want it anymore and I walked out of her office. Went to the other office to grab my flu shot questionnaire (to make sure she wouldn’t know my name) and made my way into the women’s bathroom where I proceeded to cry and try to think more clearly about what had just transpired. I decided that it was wrong of me to assume that I was right about the email. But I also did not understand why she had to insist on my wrongfulness. I’ve been reading the book “How to win friends and influence people” and it has been affecting me a lot. As well as other things…

I decided that I’d just say what I thought I did wrong. I did not want to argue so I planned to leave her response up to God.  However way she reacted, I will accept.
I walked back into the office and she was standing in the lobby with a few others in the room. I looked at her in the eye and asked if she had a moment. She said she did and we walked into her office. She cleared a chair for me and as soon as I sat down she said that she was so glad I came back because she felt so badly about what she’d done. She apologized and told me she had no right to do that and it was inappropriate. I agreed with her and told her I appreciated her apology and then proceeded to cry. I told her that I didn’t know she wrote the email and it was wrong of me to assume that the email was wrong. She said that I was “on another level” to have come back. Otherwise, she would have felt crummy about it for the rest of her day… and she didn’t even know who I was so she couldn’t do anything about it. I told her I would have felt crummy too. We ended up having a pretty decent conversation, after I’d calmed down.

Although I accept her apology, if I recall the words she said to me, I still feel a little hurt. She can never unsay those things that she said to me. How quickly she judged me and made me feel so small. I have no desire to have any relationship with her but perhaps God will have different plans for me.

As I thought more about what happened and have had more time to reflect, I realized that sometimes, other people need space to make amends. It’s easier to just brush over wrongdoings at the first whiff of an apology… but I think it’s more true to myself to hear it, acknowledge it, and accept it with a grateful heart. There are some people in my life who I am not ready to give this space to make amends… but my heart is healing slowly.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jomama
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 17:01:13

    Good for you to go back and say your peace. You were just trying to own your part of the bad exchange (which wasn’t really all that bad, really), and this unexpectedly gave her the chance to make amends. Maybe God was there after all.

    All I can say about the re-hashing of it in your mind, is let it go. Whatever she said was not about you. You were a stranger to her, so she had no particular reason to be rude to you like that. Instead, I think she just had a bad day before you ever walked into it. Maybe her boss just yelled at her about a different email being badly written, so she felt criticized when you said the email had the dates wrong. It was something in her life that made her behave that way, not you. You just happened to be the person who crossed her path. Any other day, she might have smiled, let it go, and just given you your shot.


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