"Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart
because they probably do."
I remember the exact moment when I knew I wasn't enough, a moment when I felt apologetic for my very being. It certainly wasn't a moment most folks would have picked out or understood. After all, I was just a seven year old girl in a grocery store, standing with my mommy next to our cart. Suddenly, the urge to meet everyone in our line just overtook me. Now granted, I had been an extrovert from the time I took my first breath, and I knew instinctively that my talkative and "glad to know ya!" nature was just too much for my Mom. But at that moment, in that grocery store, I threw caution to the wind and my extroverted nature, won out over my fear of upsetting my Mom.
My dear Momma, God Bless her, was brilliant, detail and perfection oriented...and a serious introvert. She loathed being the center of attention or having the focus be on her. Although Dolores loved me completely, and was a great Mom in so many ways, my very nature made her skin crawl. That day in the grocery store I remember going from cart-to-cart and conversing with the adults about what they bought and why they bought it. "Oh," I'd say. "Your apples are so beautiful. Are you going to make a yummy pie with them?" "Wow!", I'd exclaim. "That chocolate chip ice cream is my very favorite!"
Slowly, but surely, after the last lively and animated conversation, I inched my way back to our cart and with a skip, a hop and an ear-splitting grin...I looked up at my Mom.
And then I knew...just as if someone took a pin and popped a gorgeous, red birthday balloon.
I had caused her displeasure. She was mad at me for being...me.
My personality and extroverted way of life had disappointed her. As much as she loved me, and believe me she loved me more than anyone in the world,
she couldn't appreciate who I really was, who God made me to be.
And politely she whispered, loud enough so everyone in the grocery line could hear, "Linda Marie, would you please modulate yourself!" And then she looked away. And I felt shame and blame in every part of my body.
When the people who are supposed to love us unconditionally, just as we are, turn their eyes and love away from us, that silent retreat of disapproval and contempt stays with us our whole lives. That shame and blame coats our souls.
Almost 60 years later, I can still feel the shame, criticism and contempt of that moment.
That moment is life-changing. We know we have displeased them, that we don't measure up, that we are a disappointment. That condemning look, or silent look away, sends a strong message, "You are less than. You should know better. I would never, ever make the stupid mistakes you are making." Or the contempt and criticism leveled at us can take another back road around to our heart.
That same person can give us "advice" or "feedback" that has such a sting to it that we feel like a failure. "Modulate yourself, Linda" All would be better if you just turned yourself down and were more quiet, and more like I am.
Oh, they were just sharing their "truth", but their "truth" can cut us to the bone.
Truthfully, even though it may have had a positive intention initially, the feedback is laced with blame and shame and is perceived as more of a vent of arrogance and frustration.
Words are powerful. Words can hurt. Words can be etched into our hearts forever.
I believe the shaming messages we get from our parents, other family members,
and those nearest and dearest to us, go straight into our DNA. Later in our own lives some of us then turn around and become like the very perfectionist condemners and heart-breakers who hurt us so much. Sadly, I am not exempt from this. I have given my fair share of disapproving looks, pointed feedback that hurt and even if unspoken, felt condemnation in my heart toward someone else. I have wanted to take certain people and put them in a mold that was more comfortable for me. I'm not sure why I have been so arrogant as to assume that people should live their lives to my specification and then their lives would go better. Judgemental, critical, condemning...cuts to the quick and breaks the spirits and hearts of others, even when that's not our intention.
I recently heard someone I dearly love, who has been shamed and shamed again, say, "I know I have always been a disappointment." She looked defeated as she shared what shame had done to her spirit. I left that conversation asking myself an important question,
"Who have I shamed that might feel I disapprove of them so greatly that I have hurt their spirit?"
As my dear friend, Sharon, a retired teacher says, "Keep your eyes on your own paper." In other words, we all need to work on ourselves and what we need to change about ourselves, instead of focusing on the work others need to do in their lives.
What I know for sure... is that the good Lord made each of us absolutely UNIQUE! Some of us were designed to do it "just so" with great perfection and precision. Others of us are creative rebels who make mistakes and live life on the edge. Yet ALL of us, and I do mean ALL of us, need God's grace and the grace and unconditional love of those closest to us.
While it took some time, and lots of soul-searching and soul-work, with God's help I came back to being that extroverted, "glad to know ya!" gal. I completely forgave my Mom, and I am trying to learn from the mistake she made. I make those same mistakes too.
In 2014, I am prayerfully asking God to remove all condemnation, criticism,
shame and blame from my own heart so I can wholeheartedly love others, just as they are. I want to follow the lead of Dr. Seus in celebrating everyone's individuality.
Dr. Seus says:
Today you are you!
that is truer than true!
There is no one alive
who is youer than you!
May all of us celebrate who God made us to be and even when it's a challenge, love the differences in others wholeheartedly! Let's kick shame and blame to the curb!
May God bless you and keep you in the palm of His mighty hand!
Monday, January 06, 2014
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