Lead with Love

I am a Christian and not a person who judges on race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or political affiliation. (Ok maybe that last one is not entirely true but I’m a work in progress) I have always prided myself on being an open loving and caring human being.  One of the reasons I am this way is because I was and still am judged based upon my appearance and sometimes on my choices. 

 First of all I am a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a contributing member of society and a very hard worker.  I’m sometimes funny, a smart mouth, sarcastic, anally retentive, extremely over analytical, intelligent, well read, I get my feelings hurt too easily, I can become angry when things aren’t going the way I think they should and I cry a lot.  I don’t cry because I’m sad, well rarely anyway, because I’m not sad or depressed most of the time. I live a pretty good life and have some really amazing people in my world. I cry at commercials and movies and when I see old people in love and when the seasons change and when children are hurt or when a baby laughs or when my daughter does something wonderful … well you get my point. Yes I’m a person with a lot of emotional depth (not my phrase, my ex told me that once and I don’t think he meant it as a compliment). When I am feeling anything it shows all over my face.  I don’t lie well and never have, so I rarely try. I’m a frizzy curly girl with red hair and eyes that change color with pink cheeks all the time.  I am also and have been for my entire adult life overweight. 

I talk too much, I’m ridiculously pedantic and I seriously could use therapy as it relates to my abject hatred of “text speak”.  Okay I probably don’t need therapy but I do hate it when I receive grammatically incorrect texts.  I’m working on it as I know this is the way people communicate now but it’s going to take me a while. I’m impatient with people who I think are making bad choices, I’m a defender of the defenseless and extremely out-spoken about it. I would do just about anything for the people I love and I think they know it. I don’t believe that ignorance is an excuse for mistreating people and will, most of the time against their will, take great strides to educate the mistreaters on why their position is so incredibly wrong. I’m obstinate and opinionated but I can change my mind if I’m given a reason and have done so on many occasions. I’m a spelling geek and a grammar snob but I think that comes from being an amateur writer…or maybe not.  I believe that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves so that we understand the world around us and so that we can do the right thing as much as possible so I find that I am more than a little bit intolerant of deliberate ignorance.

When I was a child I was different than my classmates.  Ask any of them and they’ll agree with that. I was extremely shy, afraid of my own shadow, uncertain of my place in the world, a skinny sad little waif of a girl with too much hair and not a lot to say.  I was a pretty good student and I kept pretty much to myself although I did have some friends.  I was a bit odd overall and I can’t really even now pinpoint why. I have since learned to embrace those differences but as a child I didn’t really know what to do or where to put my hands when I wasn’t using them or how to cross my legs or sit in a pretty dress like some of my classmates or how to act in a crowd. I was beaten up by two boys once because they thought I had done this incredibly reprehensible thing and I was too timid and too scared to fight back so I let it happen.  I didn’t do this thing they thought I did but I guarantee to this day those two boys still think I did. I had these two friends that, between grade school and junior high school, dropped me like a hot potato for no discernible reason. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood why. They wanted to walk into a new school with new people and they didn’t want me along because my physical and behavioral oddities might have caused them to be pigeonholed as well. I forgave them a long time ago for it as human nature is what it is and we were kids. I wanted to be popular too! Eventually I found a really wonderful group of friends and even now am in touch with some of them.  I wasn’t popular but I was as happy as any teenage girl can be most of the time. 

Not very long ago this woman who I remembered as a child as being poised way beyond her years with beautiful hair and big brown eyes apologized to me for picking on me when we were little.  I didn’t even remember that she had picked on me but I thanked her all the same. We all do things as children we regret as adults. I laughed at this boy named Ross who was mainstreamed into our high school and looking back on it with my adult eyes I feel terrible because I think now that Ross and his parents were incredibly brave to let their child attend a public high school. I don’t know why he was different and it doesn’t matter really, the point is that I was not nice to him.

 So now that I have bored you to tears let me tell you why I am spilling my guts today. 

Once not a very long time ago someone who loves me called me on my stuff.  This is a person who has known me for more than thirty years and has seen me at my worst and still loved me despite my not so stellar qualities. We grew up together, raised our children together, went through hell together and came through it all still on speaking terms. She is someone I know will always love me no matter what and I feel the same about her. I was telling her about this person I know who just does things wrong. I told her (I’m not proud of this) that I felt it was my responsibility to help this person understand that these things were wrong. I paused for breath … once … and asked her if she understood where I was coming from not really expecting an answer, it’s just what you do, right? As I said we’ve known each other for a very long time so I knew the look that crossed her face as she pondered my question. I decided to go “all in” and challenged her to tell me the truth behind the look. I thought I was ready to hear it but I wasn’t, not entirely. She just asked me to consider if I was perhaps trying to make myself this other person’s higher power.  She very gently and kindly asked me to consider if maybe my position on this matter wasn’t maybe a little bit judgmental as though I thought I were better than this other person.Well I nodded my head thoughtfully and said all the right things, “Why yes you might have a point” and “Hmm you’ve given me some things to think about, thank you” etc. I could tell by her face that she knew I was just throwing words out that night.

I did think about them though in the days to follow and I did retain what she’d said to me and have made some strides to revise my behavior as it relates to this person. With my friend’s help I was able to recognize that what I was doing was not right. I’m doing better than I was but I still have some work to do before I can honestly say I have changed.  I was humbled when I realized that really I was being the worst kind of friend by not learning to accept this person for who they were and adapting as needed to keep them in my life. It takes a decided effort at times to keep my opinions to myself and I don’t always succeed but I am trying.  So, in a nutshell, my friend did open my eyes to something I needed to change and although I was a teensy bit resistant and maybe even a little bit resentful I appreciated her all that much more for it. We all need those people in our lives who can be completely honest with us and call them as they see them with absolute love.  I am fortunate that I have surrounded myself with people who do love me enough to give me the truth even when it hurts.

So now we are here, today.  I ran across a blog today while playing on Facebook and after reading it and some of the responses to it I realized that I have not made as many strides as I’d like.  http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html  You should read it when you have time as not only is Dan a terrific writer but the message he is sending is so simple.  Stop justifying our beliefs and our prejudices and open our hearts and our arms to those people we have judged and looked down upon and find a way to love them.  I don’t think I’m over-stating this if I say that reading this blog has given me a new perspective on myself and my treatment of others.  I would even go so far as to say that reading this blog has changed my life… or at least I hope it has.  I know it has opened my eyes to the fact that as good a person as I think I am, and I think I am basically a good person, I could be so much better if I lead with love and leave the bull shit at the door.




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2 Responses to Lead with Love

  1. How did I miss this one until now? And how timely IS this, given what I posted and you commented on, today?

    The only problem with it is that when we leave ALL judgment at the door is that we inevitably run into a point where we consider the other person’s behavior too depraved or immoral to accept, and therefore we cannot embrace them, either. Maybe it’s “unChristian” of me, but I would include cannibalism, rape, murder, child molestation, and such things in this bucket.

    We all judge. I don’t believe it’s wrong to do so.

    Unfortunately, there are “gray areas.” I don’t believe that being gay is a choice, though many people do. I think that it’s simple biological wiring. Given that belief, based on scientific evidence and the personal certainty that I could no more choose to change the way I’m wired than fly, I have to think that either (a) God’s perfect and being gay is fine by God; (b) God made a mistake; or (c) there is no God. (I’d prefer not to add (d) God is twisted and cruel, though many would add that possibility to the mix.)

    That said, I think being gay is similar to being black, female, mentally or physically challenged, etc. It’s an “immutable” characteristic that we have no business discriminating against.

    • You’re right, of course, we all must choose our own level of tolerance. You have given me something to think about. Although it has been a while since I wrote this it does rent some pretty prominent space in my brain and as such it has impacted how I react to people or incidences. What I want from myself is to to try to avoid basing my actions or reactions to people on judgement and instead try to be a true Christian. I had ice cream with a friend this weekend and we are both lapsed Catholics. We agreed that although we are uncertain about organized religion we do envy their faith and the peace of mind a true Christian seems to have. I want to love people in my world without judgement. To your point, if I found out that one of those people was a rapist etc I might find I need to detach but my hope is that the people in my world are not. Thank you for your insight and for taking time to reply. You make me think and I appreciate that.

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