We can’t control another’s experience of how we show up in their life.
This is a difficult truth, because I want to believe that everyone is experiencing me at my well-intended best self. My intentions are good. They are. I want you to remember my intention towards you, even if you have no idea what that is, seeing as it is inside of me.
I care. Really, I do.
But you will remember your experience of me. There are times when even at our best-intentioned self, we miss the mark completely. We harm or disappoint not only by things we do but also by those things we don’t. The older I get, the more stories people (including my adult children) share of how they have experienced me, the more real this becomes.
How better-intentioned can it be than to send out Christmas cards to beloved friends? I sat down Monday morning, the first day of break, and diligently began hand-addressing envelopes. I was determined to do better than years gone by and not wait until Christmas Eve.
I did it. I got those envelopes addressed, stuffed, and stamped.
Two hours later, a quick walk with the dog to the post office, and I had most of the Christmas cards mailed. A few needed address double-checks or a little something extra added to the envelope. The rest were stragglers or hand-deliverables.
It felt good to have a Christmas task
crossed off of the list while spending time with one of my favorite littles.
A few days later, a friend posted a Facebook status and photo of an empty Christmas card envelope she received.
Immediately I knew it was mine. It’s clear by that silver foil lining and the handwriting showing through. Can’t everybody tell? Is all of cyberspace looking at me right now? I sent an empty envelope to the very friend whose beautiful card I received today.
Seeing the picture and skimming the comments below it brought a feeling of deep personal shame. Thankfully, I was able to recognize that lie and stop the downward emotional spiral before anger and self-contempt took over. I spoke truth to my heart.
There is no shame in not being perfect. It is okay to make a mistake. You don’t have to justify or explain. It was an inadvertent omission. Not. Intentional. You are not defined by a Christmas card, and yes, you will continue to send cards.
I stepped up in the comments, owned my mistake and my feelings, and was immediately surrounded by love, care, and understanding. Stories were shared and my friend told me it actually brought her a lot of joy.
That is the thing, Dear Readers. I fully intended for my friend to open that envelope and receive Christmas Blessings from me in the form of a beautiful card. Sometimes we do show up just as we thought we would and are received as such. The card is there and gets put up around the mirror and the day moves on.
But other times.
Sometimes we think we showed up when we didn’t. And we don’t even know it. We didn’t check social media. We weren’t on social media. Our friend wasn’t on social media. There just wasn’t a card. And life goes on and maybe drifts apart, and we didn’t know and didn’t see and didn’t intend.
Sometimes we find out about it in time and are able to resend a card. We saw the post, recognized the envelope and handwriting, dealt with our feelings, shared honestly from the heart.
Sometimes we show up in our absence. In giving others space to feel their own feelings about the void.
We can’t control another’s experience of how we show up. We can only keep trying. I will walk to the post office in a bit with card number two and try again.
Christmas Blessings, Friends! Keep showing up!