Sharing my story has been an emotional journey as it is not easy to tap back into those memories and relive them. However, it has been a healthy exercise to look back and see how far I have advanced in my life. I have taken my experiences and have done my best to allow them to enhance my life rather than hinder it. Unfortunately, in spite of the work I have put into bettering myself, I can honestly say that I have come under some serious scrutiny in my life. This is something that I do not understand because it simply does not make sense to me. The only shoes I have been in are my own and I do not assume that I know where someone else has walked in theirs. Whenever I meet someone whom I know has come from a difficult circumstance, my initial reaction is one of grace, compassion and even admiration for the battles they have fought through. Still, I do not know their journey, their pain or their experiences and, therefore, I have no right to place any expectations upon them. Yet, somehow, so many unrealistic expectations have been placed on my life and it has prompted me to reflect on why this has been the case.
Because of the multiple traumas I have been through, my brain tends to work very differently. I am not a medical expert on the reasons why I think the way I do, why I was emotionally stunted for much of my life or why I am the way that I am; however, I don’t believe that I need a degree to accept the person that I have become. It has taken a lifetime for me to get to a place of comfort with the person that I am today. I am fun, outgoing, humorous and have a hearty laugh! AdditionalIy, I am also a deep thinker, thoughtful of others, compassionate and genuinely Love people. I am very confident and I do my best to surround myself with a community of people who appreciate me for who I am. I trust my circle of family and friends to be a safe place where there is no judgement, back biting, gossiping or dissension. I firmly believe that if we can’t trust each other with the good, the bad and the ugly, then our foundation needs to be strengthened. I promote being honest and real because that is the only way to build genuine and authentic relationships.
When someone like myself climbs out of a deep, dark hole and rises up victorious, it only seems appropriate that there would be a whooping and a hollering of celebration! The crazy thing is, that in many cases, this doesn’t happen. It’s like we live in a society that has short-term memory and only has the ability to see forward. What I mean by this is that, it is too easy to forget how much progress the people around us have made because we are too occupied with looking ahead to where we think they should be.
We place unwarranted expectations on our family and friends which are unhealthy and only serve to promote division in our relationships. Let me clarify what I am trying to communicate here. It is perfectly acceptable to have personal expectations and hold ourselves to certain standards. But where we go wrong is when we place those expectations on others and expect them to live according to our standards. It is confounding to me the number of times that I have seen relationships fall apart because of this mindset.
Many years ago, I was involved with a playgroup in which there were about fifteen moms who made up the core of it. Now, coming where I had come from, I was not your typical mother type. I was rough around the edges and pretty blunt in speech. If you asked my opinion, boy, you were going to get it! I did not fall in line with all of the other moms and didn’t even realize there was a line to fall into. I was completely clueless to the fact that, if the leader was asking me what I thought about something, she was really just digging for more information. So, when the leadership transferred from one mom to another, of course there were some growing pains from that. A month or so after the transition, the old leader asked me how it was going and I was honest about how I felt about things. It wasn’t terrible but there was definitely room for improvement in the area of communication. A week later I was asked to meet with that old leader and the new leader and I didn’t have a good feeling about it. I was right to be concerned!
During what turned out to be a confrontational meeting, I was called out for being jealous that I was not chosen as the new leader and causing division between her and the other moms! WHAT??? WHAT??? I was only a handful of years off the streets, was trying to figure out my new Christian life, how to be a good wife, how to even be somewhat of a good mom and was totally in over my head. Up until this point, I only had guy friends because they were simple and came with very little drama. I was struggling with having women friends so why would I ever want to lead a group of them??? I was flabbergasted that I was in the middle of this drama and I didn’t even know how I got there. These women had expectations on how a mom should act or behave and I did not fit their pattern, therefore, I became the fall guy.
These women did not know how to handle someone like myself and their erroneous conclusions were proof of that. I literally looked at these women, said they were wrong about their assumptions, that I had nothing left to say and I exited the meeting. I simply had no tolerance for this kind of treatment. I mean, the level of talking behind my back and gossiping that it took for them to reach these conclusions about me was annoying. It could all have been avoided if they had been just as honest and upfront as I was. Not that I couldn’t have used more grace and tact, but at the time that’s just where I was at.
This is the type of situation that happens when we talk behind each other’s backs and reach conclusions and assumptions that are completely unfounded outside of our personal thoughts and insecurities. If you do not talk directly to the person that you are having difficulty or a misunderstanding with, then you do not have the full facts needed to come to proper or adequate conclusions.
When I say, “Put the Gavel Down”, I mean put the gavel of judgment down. We need to stop judging each other and learn to start viewing each other through a more positive lens. Abraham Lincoln said, “If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.” We live in an imperfect society, with imperfect people, and there is plenty of negative to be found. However, what if we made it a habit to look for the positive things in each other? There is an abundance of good to be found but we are not seeing it simply because we are not looking for it. There will always be those things we need to chat about or confront, but we would all have more peace and joy in our relationships if those moments were the exceptions rather than the rule.
I do my very best to choose to see the best in the people around me and to concentrate on the positive things that they bring into my life and I appreciate it when I am given the same consideration. Life is too short to spend it in anger and resentment. We all need to make intentional efforts to bring more enjoyable moments into our relationships so that we can revel in the goodness of each other’s lives. It took me way too long to learn how to live just being me; but the freedom that comes along with figuring that out is such a sweet place of peace and worth every mental battle it took to get here.
Until next time, be you, look for the positive and stay safe!
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