Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Giving the Benefit of the Doubt

Sometimes I feel like the word "forgiveness" is overused, or perhaps misplaced at times. For instance, forgiveness not only means pardoning an offense, but it also means to pardon certain behaviors or personality types. To be completely honest, I find myself having a hard time connecting with certain people---which doesn't mean it's all their fault. I place blame on my view of them, their behavior or maybe a clash in opinions and beliefs. It all depends. In the past, I have had a couple of friends who were just bluntly honest to a flaw. I remember this one time, we were all having dinner at a local restaurant and bar. We were talking about our passions in life, mine being art, writing and music, and the other people were very passionate about exercising and going to the gym. They were in super tiptop shape! I admired their dedication to their health. For me, I've never really cared if I was 'thick' or overweight. I mean, granted I'd like to lose weight, but life was so much more than counting calories. At that time, I was pushing 180 lbs, and I had stated this to my friends. One of them had asked me, "Would you ever consider weight loss surgery?"

I answered her with an honest response. I explained that I would never do weight loss surgery due to the risks. I keep recalling my partner's good friend who died right on the table during surgery. I would try my hardest to do it myself and make better food choices. As I sipped my drink and delved deeper into my thoughts, which were forming a much bigger opinion, I started to feel a little offended. I mean, yeah I know I need to lose some weight, but to ask a friend about weight loss surgery? Surgeons won't even offer you weight loss surgery if you are under 230 lbs to begin with, so there's that thought floating through my mind. "Does she think I look 50 pounds heavier?" And while that's not a big deal, because many women suffer with obesity, I had to take into account that maybe she was concerned about my overall health....but I just couldn't let it go. I was offended.

That was a definite a flaw of mine in the past. Whenever a friend got too honest with me, I would take offense. Most people would agree with me---like yeah, that IS offensive. But, is it really? I guess back then I was much more insecure than I am now. I had a lot of self-esteem issues and it just consumed me. My thoughts headed over to the vengeance side (silently in my mind of course) like, "You should talk about health as you guzzle down gallons of wine!" There are other health issues I could've brought to her attention, but the thing was---I wasn't being forgiving of her natural honesty, which frankly these days, is refreshing to me. I'd rather someone come out and say it and be honest than flatter me and let me receive my own zip code. So these days, I appreciate honesty.

Another flaw of mine (do you have all day?) -- is being a "yes girl." I sometimes overspend, over-give, or say yes to events that I don't want to go to. One of my longtime friendships recently ended due to feeling offended. In my mind, she would spend weekends here, to which she treated me like a fricken bed and breakfast. She loved how I cooked for her or went out to get her favorite wine. But at some point, I felt like I was being taken advantage of. If she was bored, she'd call me and say, "Can I come over and we can cook something?" But it really meant me cooking and cleaning---which I already love to do. It started getting worse when she did random unexpected drop ins with her friends, expecting a huge meal and free wine. At this point, I was already clenching my teeth, but catered to her anyway, because I truly did love my friend. But one day as I was sick in bed, she texts me, "Hey, let me know if you need anything today. I'm going to come over and check in on you."  I thought---wow---now that's super sweet of her! So I texted her back, "Oh wow, thank you! Do you think you could cook for me or bring me some chicken soup from that deli tonight?" (She's a really good cook herself.) I get a text back the next second, "Oh sorry, I have plans."

*blink*

Listen, I don't expect anything from anyone. The only thing that gets me are people who use you just for a free meal ticket or those who think you're super rich and have a ton of money to spend on them. I'm not rich, but I will share whatever I have with anyone who needs it. I will feed you, give you a room if you need to stay the night---but once I feel like someone is taking advantage of me, I tend to drop the friendship or become distant. See, friendship is a two way street, much like a love relationship. Maya Angelou said it perfectly. She said, "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." Although I give without expectations, I sometimes feel bad whenever I'm the one in need, and there's nobody to help me in the process. Today, I have people in my life who compliment my space with love and respect---and most of all, even if I cook or cater to them, I never feel used because there's a certain give and take to the relationship. I've found people who actually care about what you need---not pretend to. They don't ask, "Do you need anything," just to seem like a good person. They really do mean, "Do you need ANYTHING?"

So my point of this entire post is, maybe I should've been more forgiving of those who I 'thought' were taken advantage of me. Maybe being a "yes girl" made them have an entire different perspective  of me. Maybe my "welcome mat" wasn't as sincere as I made it out to be. Maybe this is just all my fault. I'm learning as I go. I'm learning to forgive different personality types, none being right or wrong or good or bad---just different. I'm in no way perfect myself! I'm learning to leave a huge margin of err and offense, in case I was "too sensitive" that day, and trust me, that does happen!

When we're forgiving of someone else's personality type or "offensive comments" -- are we simply being a bunch of pushovers, or do you think it's wiser to let it all go and give the benefit of the doubt instead?

Would love to hear your stories as well. If you'd like to comment on this post, visit me over on my Facebook page or Twitter account. Thanks for reading!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!