She had me at when.
Her long, eloquent, heart-felt text used the word When, to say things she couldn’t/wouldn’t say verbally—at least to me.
Writing camouflage the way we see ourselves and how we live vicariously through others—sometimes unconsciously.
Warning: If someone uses when at the beginning or the middle of a sentence, pay attention to the emotional red flags.
When I share our exchange below, perhaps you’ll understand my depth of concern, the panic that ensued, and how I vacillated on sharing the truth at the compromise of our 20-plus friendship.
I just wanted to let you know, my daughter has accepted a prestigious summer internship. When she leaves, that’s when my life will change.
When she gets her license, I’ll feel free! I’ll get a life!
She continues. When she travels to Thailand with her senior class next year, I plan to go as a chaperone.
Me: No response. I continue reading with tears spilling down my cheeks.
When she’s leaves for college, that’s when I’ll get my life back/together. My time is coming,” she writes and I hear her anticipation mingled with sadness.
I hear her saying “I’ll be happier when……”
My response: Your when is now! Live intentionally!
Truth hurts. I had to say things to my friend which hurt me deeply and truthfully, I struggled with her consistent use of the word When.
When is one of those tricky words with so many hidden meanings.
I associate when as an action or inaction/stagnation in one’s personal or professional goals or dreams.
When also connotes excuses, missed opportunities, future, near future, magically, never, fantasies, complacency and fear.
When, I asked myself, would our focus shift from her children to her personal accomplishments?
When would I get to witness her transformation into a beautiful butterfly who’s actually flying?
When I think of my friend, I think of would have, should have, could have, but didn’t dare.
A few days later, I thought about our conversation when it hit me: My when and her when is not in sync. My when was always feels/seems urgent as in today. Her when is delayed gratification; patience and at times I’ve seen her take baby steps, but at least she was moving. Then she’d stop.
I thought I accepted her unconditionally. What changed?
And when was the last time, I took personal inventory of my own When challenges? Have I not asked myself the following when questions?
When will healing begin?
When will my book be published?
When will I be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor—both personal and professional?
Then, I’m reminded that our when (timing) is not congruent with God’s when, plans (timing) for our lives.
This biblical passage found in Habakkuk 2:3 challenges my when (s) and quiets my anxiousness. It states: For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not delay. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
My friend had me at when.
I know my friend and I both struggle with our own “When” or “Someday I’ll” in our conversations. I can only hope my friends will help me help when with present tense, positive affirmations and blessings.