If you’ve been reading the VWM for very long, you already know that I tend to be... honest.
Yeah, I know that’s maybe not the word you would choose to describe me. But for the sake of this-is-my-blog-so-I-get-to-say-what-I-want, let’s go with “honest”.
Last week, one of our friends and coworkers, here in Costa Rica, was badly burned when he was lighting a propane stove. A giant fire ball literally cooked his face, hands and arms. He was in the hospital for a few days, on morphine (woohoo!) and preventative antibiotics, but it looks like once all the crispy flesh falls off and after everything stops dripping and oozing, he’ll be just fine.
I didn’t see him right away. It was a few days before I saw him, and everybody was saying how good he was looking, and how much better it looked than when it first happened, and everyone was talking about how it could have been so much worse. So, I didn’t really know what to expect when I stopped by his house, but when he came downstairs, with his arms sticking out -all unnatural and zombie like - and greasy burn cream gooped all over, I was just....uh...
Ok. I was grossed out....What?!
So I opened my mouth to say the things you’re supposed to say when you see your Burn-Victim Friend for the first time, right? Nice things. Encouraging things. Things like, “You look great!”, or, “Oh, I bet that won’t even leave a scar”, but this what came out, instead:
Oh my goooo....*swallow*..it’s... wow.
.....you look hideous....
...like something from a horror flick.
You look like that chick that Jason Voorhees boiled in a hot tub.
Is the end of your nose gonna... ya know... like, grow back?...
It’s black. Your skin is black. Like, for real, black.
I’m sorry. I have to stop looking now.
You know when you get that watery feeling in your jaw, like right before you throw up? I have that.
um.... I’m gonna go... *gag*"
And that is how I learned what NOT to say to your friend who’s been licked by a big-ass ball of fire.
I think we’re still friends.
Well, we were still friends, but, then I went back and saw him yesterday - HUGE mistake! It’s just that, a lot of the wrinkly, over-cooked hot dog skin on his upper arm has fallen off to reveal this big patch of uber-white baby skin. And it looks, not even kidding, exactly like a pork chop. So, of course, I said that. Like, 30 times.
“Jeez, that looks just like a pork chop.”
“It’s ‘the other white meat’.”
“Smell it. Does it smell like a pork chop?”
And the whole time my brain was screaming to my mouth “SHUT UP, DOUCHEBAG!!!”
So, anyway, I’m not so sure where we stand on the friend scale. With any hope, he was looped up on pain meds and won’t remember a thing.
And now you’re probably thinking, “What a complete a-hole.” And you’re pretty much right.
But, I wanna say, this doesn’t stem from a lack of compassion. Seriously? Seeing my Burn-Victim Friend sends waves of compassion reeling down my spine. It makes me feel ill - not because it’s oogy (which it is) - but because I hurt for my hurting friend, like compassion sickness. Does that even make sense?
No, this bit of ugly comes from a glaring lack of gentleness.
I am not a gentle person.
I’m not gentle with myself. I’m not gentle with my kids. I’m not gentle with my spouse. I am not gentle with people who have been burned in horrific accidents.
I love being honest. I value honesty. And I prefer to be around others who are honest and true. Real. Legit. Transparent.
But. Brutal Honesty? No thank you.
I’m thinking that gentle honesty sounds more like the kind of character that God would like me to have. And I think it says so in the Bible.
So I’m gonna say this as gently as possible:
If people describe you as “brutally honest”, that’s simply their gentle way of saying that you’re a huge jackass.
Aaaaall of that to say, to my Burn-Victim Friend, I’m sorry if I was a jackass and SO GLAD you’re ok!