So I had a bit of a revelation the other day. I was hurt by someone I didn’t even know.  They commented on something that wasn’t a big deal, and it bugged me.  Now luckily I worked my way through the hurt, but it made me wonder.  “Do you know who I am? “

I mean obviously, she didn’t know me at all.  The question came to my mind because of an exercise this speaker did at the conference I was attending.  It was the same conference where this lady approached me.  The speaker had spoken about insecurities, bullying, anxiety and how we might be playing a role like an actor, instead of being our authentic selves.  So she asked us to take a nametag and write down all the names we called ourselves, and exchange them for what God says of us.  So here we are writing down the real and perceived flaws or inadequacies that pretty much most of us feel, ready to exchange them for something better.  As I went through the process, I thought of my encounter, and laughed when that question popped into my head.  “Do you know who I am?”

And no, not in the hands on hips, attitude filled, head bobbing way.  No, it was more like the hurt, sad or broken woman who was writing on the nametag.  She didn’t know if I was worthless, fearful or abused.  She didn’t ask if I was anxious, stupid, ugly or unwanted.  She just came up to me and made a comment that could wound, without intending to.  In that moment, whoever I thought I was, may have just been confirmed by a complete stranger and a silly exchange.  Worthless, not good enough, different.

It was sad to feel this way in the midst of this gathering where I should have felt safe.  It was even sadder to think that those words may have found more fertile soil in someone else.

It made me mad for a couple of weeks.  Not in the I am mad and going to be in a state of anger kind of way, but in the way where I couldn’t write about it until now.  Where I could actually write clearly about the encounter, and not be harsh with my words.

I wanted the anger at my hurt to be gone, and just be left with the sadness of how we treat each other.  Now I have no illusions that this woman was trying to hurt me on purpose, but she did on accident.  It made me wonder how many times we do that with other people?

Now to be perfectly clear, this was a Christian women’s conference.  A quick weekend event that is meant to encourage and uplift.  So you can really imagine my chagrin to have had this little hiccup in the proceedings.  Now, she may have thought that what she did was no big deal, but remember my question, “Do you know who I am?”

When we don’t know someone, it is really hard to know how to approach them.  Quite frankly, it’s impossible!  We don’t know their personality, history or the day they’ve had.  Multiple factors that all add up to who we are and how we filter information.  So how can we talk to each other?  Well, I would give my most favorite example, and that was a guy named John.

You see, we meet John through the bible.  For many of us, his words are the first we memorize about Jesus.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son….. John 3:16.

He writes the ultimate words on how God loves us, and it’s a good thing, because later in his life John is called again to give some hard truth.  In the book of Revelation, heaven is opened and John sees what is to come.  Some of it is hard truth, but it’s truth we can handle. How?  Well because we go back to where John started, “For God so loved…..” We can handle the truth when we know that someone loves us.  If there is even a bit of doubt of that love?  Well then you can almost guarantee a bad reception to anything you say. Hard truth, or even a simple comment in the middle of a crowd.

So friends, check your heart when you make that observation, comment or give advice.  Make sure that person knows you’re speaking out of love.  If there is any possibility of doubt, maybe you shouldn’t be saying it? Take the time to lay that groundwork of love first.  Then you will have the ability to speak into their life in a way that will encourage, uplift and bring wisdom at the exact time they need it.