I grew up thinking that in order to be liked and respected, you had to be strong and never show weakness. You had to have your act together to be viewed as a decent person.
Because of this, I became extremely judgmental of people that I thought were not strong enough, smart enough, didn’t control their children, didn’t spend or save money in the right way, didn’t make the “right” decisions in their lives, etc…didn’t have their lives together.
Wow! What a horrible way to live!
I was just laying in bed thinking about a lady that was in my church when I was growing up. This lady was clearly beat down by life. Life had hit her hard, and you could see it in her tears at church most Sunday mornings.
I hope there were people that were there for this woman in a strong way. But honestly, I’m not sure there was. I remember seeing her so broken quite often. But I don’t remember anyone (or many people) clearly caring for her and being with her through the crap.
I realize I was looking at this through a child’s eyes, but I hope I’m wrong.
And as I think about it, I think that had I seen love overflowing from people toward this woman in my church, it might have drastically changed the way I viewed all people. It could have done me a lot of good to see people actively loving on this woman and others like her. I know for a fact that people in my church loved each other. I just think there could have been a lot more loving going on. More often than not, I got the impression that adults were afraid of people who were struggling. They didn’t want to hang out with them. Because then they would have to deal with messiness and ugliness. And who wants to deal with that when you can ignore it and hang out and be seen with people who are all put together and have seemingly neat and tidy lives?
Maybe this wasn’t the case at all. I hope it wasn’t. Again, I was a child.
I grew up thinking that I had to be perfect for people to like me. I couldn’t make mistakes. I had to be on top of my game all the time. No room for weakness.
Although I’ve come a long way on all of this, I still struggle. I hate feeling weak. Or appearing weak. I want to be seen as someone who’s got it all together. Someone who is strong. I like to control things, but I’ve learned the hard way many times that I really do not control anything. And that drives me nuts!
Now that I’m an adult and never really feel like I have my own act together, I am thankful that I have a group of friends who are always ready to admit how they are not perfect. Who find joy in the fact that we don’t have to be strong all the time or have all the answers. We can be weak together and still be ok and liked…no, loved!
And I pray that I will do a better job of looking for those who are hurting, reaching out to them and showing them that they are beautiful and loved no matter how put together (or not) their lives are. Encouraging them instead of making them feel less than. Building them up.
I want my kids to see me doing this. I want them to grow up thinking differently about life and people. I want them to not know any other way of doing things. That our first response is to love, not judge. And to be bold in sharing this love and care to others.
Bravo, Steph. Great, insightful post.