I’ve always had a heart for the ones being gossiped and whispered about, the underdogs, the ones being bullied, the ones no one understands and label as “weird” or “different” because those are my people, they are exactly who I identify with. Originally I wanted to title this, Quit being @$$holes! With working on not cussing as much, at least when I am not driving, I’m trying to avoid that. At face value though, that is how it feels sometimes. People who set out with the sole intent of hurting someone else based purely on judgment and then suffocating them with manipulative shaming. To me, that is just not okay. To me, that is a heart issue, a fixable choice, a ‘you-can-totally-change-and-be-a-better-person’ issue and while it is entirely frustrating and avoidable, I know hurt people, hurt people.
Jay Shetty said, “That person you don’t understand. They’re a lesson you haven’t learned” and it is true. The more mistakes I make, the more situations I face, the more understanding and empathy I have for others. Trust me when I say that in my younger years of stupidity I was judgmental with unrealistic expectations. My preconceived notions of how I would wear and walk in anyone else’s shoes better or differently than they had were obnoxious. Especially when I was walking with my shoes on the wrong feet, to begin with, or barefoot even. Fast forward to forty-year-old, heavily flawed me, and while my shoes are now at least on the right foot, I just love walking next to anyone who doesn’t have it figured out, who has lost their way and maybe even a shoe or two. Those are my people.
We all have a choice in how we treat others, how we respond to situations and what we do with information learned. Knowledge is power and love is a choice. Meaning that you have a choice in what you do with the knowledge you gained and whether to use it for good or evil. You also know when you pick up a shovel intentionally digging up dirt on someone else, whether you have any business holding that shovel yourself. Do you ever stop and think, “why am I doing this?” or “why do I care so much about outing this person?” or even better, “Is this any of my business?” Imagine if you did, the outcome would be much different.
You parent differently than Susie, great! That doesn’t mean Susie is a bad parent. It also doesn’t mean it is your business or place to insert your opinion or announce it on social media, a group text, a church group or the grocery store. For the love of Jesus, just stop it! You know what opinions are likened to right? I’ll give you a clue, it was the third word, in the title I wanted to use. We all have opinions, they don’t all need to be shared. And, PARENTING IS FREAKING HARD! Trust me, I fail at it probably daily and guess who reminds me when I do? ME! So when Susie messes up or just goes about it differently than you, give her some grace.
If someone in your town goes to jail, and you pass their mugshot around the town like a bowl of mashed potatoes on thanksgiving – that’s continuing that cycle of shame. That is purposely discrediting, humiliating and judging someone based on a situation you know nothing of. And, you’re doing it to control people, and not just the person in the mugshot either, you’re attempting to manipulate and control every person you share that mugshot with as well.
Maybe you’ve never gone to jail, maybe there is no physical proof of your most shameful moment, but let us pretend for one second there is. Let us pretend I know your deepest secret, the one you plan on taking to the grave, and because you said something to me once, or didn’t invite me to something, or hurt a friend of mine even, I decided to write it on a billboard for everyone to read as they drive by it on their morning commute to work. How would you feel? Humiliated? Raw? Vulnerable? Angry? And, then imagine I responded with, “well people had a right to know, it’s public record” or “well Susie said it was true so it must be” or even better “how does it feel having a taste of your own medicine?” because these are just some of the reasons we recycle shame. Did you catch that? RE-cycle, meaning it once was ours in some manner or brings up something similar in our past.
Shame is something I think I will always take personal, and I know this isn’t about me, but shame is something I will always identify with. It is a personal jail cell where I have spent many of my years locked up. Shame creates whispers, shame is hard to admit even to ourselves let alone to another human being. And, shame is HEAVY, SERIOUS and deeply PERSONAL. Abortions, criminal histories, domestic violence, financial hardships, affairs, addictions, mental illness, etc. are all whispered because they carry heavy amounts of shame. Shame that only worsens when another person knows your truth and uses it to continue that shame. I mean, let’s be real and call it what it is – manipulative control, which is emotional and mental abuse. Sounds harsh I know, but it is true.
Timmy got another DUI, Molly relapsed, Amy had her kids taken away by DHS, Jessica got divorced, Mike abused his wife, Bobby got fired for sleeping with his secretary- again! The list goes on and on and it breaks my heart and pisses me off to no end when I read this garbage or hear about it. Did you think for once that possibly these people are struggling, and losing a battle that is costing them their OWN lives, and not YOURS? Did you consider for one second to not forward that text, that mugshot, that article and instead reach out to them personally, pray for them or just let them know you’re there? Heck you could offer to go to AA class with them, give them a ride to work, anything to help instead of hinder and deepen the shame.
Publicizing someone else’s shame isn’t even about what they did. It’s an outward reaction to a personal problem, your personal problem. You’ve heard the saying, “what Susie says of Sally, says more of Susie than of Sally” and that is what lies at the core of all of this. At the end of the day, you are allowed to dislike someone. You’re allowed to disagree with their choices even, but taking on someone else’s failures and differences, making and taking them personally – that is a YOU issue. The question at the heart of the matter is, What reflection are you seeing in them that is creating a monster inside you? That is the heart transplant needed. The cancer that needs cut out. The venom that needs suctioning so that the healing that needs to happen, can.
People will hurt us, that is the natural course of life. Trust me when I say that there are moments when I wish for one second someone could feel how I’ve felt in those moments of judgment, shame and isolation. Then I remind myself that if they are hurting me, they most likely already do. We are responsible for carrying our hurt with us as a method of destruction or as a tool towards grace and healing. You’ll never regret offering a heavy dose of grace instead of judgment because judgment and vengeance is not ours to give, but LOVE is.
Romans 12:17-19 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord