A few months ago, someone reached out to me and said:
“I am not a perfect person, but, I have worked on the active listening that you mentioned earlier. I am still not perfect; I never will be. But I am working on it, and I believe I have become better for it.
But, I just wanted you to know that I have grown. I very much appreciate the time you took to question some things I said. I still disagree on some ideological viewpoints that you and I probably still differ on, but I am very appreciative of being able to look back on this and say that I grew because of you. I still struggle with certain perspectives because of the combination of my faith, which is very important to me, and my sexual desires. But, I have been able to grow and listen.
Again, I just wanted to thank you for your time and help. God bless!”
They were referring to a conversation we’d had in early 2019. They had commented on a writing, and I and several others dogsled them.
Not undeserved. Their ideas were actively harmful to others, and to their own potential for happiness.
Also not entirely mean, but certainly partly so.
A verbal slapping around, hoping it would knock a few rocks loose.
In the two years since then, I’d thought about that, and figured I’d never hear from them again, and frankly expected we’d probably chased them off FetLife.
I was wrong.
Notes like this are few and far between, but they have come in over the years.
From people who I’ve butted heads with, despairing that I’d ever get them to see that the traps they had set in their own minds were causing them the pain and suffering they were experiencing.
Telling me that I made a difference. That I created a small crack for the light to shine through. That I gave them a single concept that inspired them to be more for themselves.
And each one of these reminds me that every single person who seems like a lost cause has the potential to grow and change their minds and be happier.
And that is enough (most of the time—I’m still very human) for me to try to find compassion in me for everyone, and pay attention to the words I use.