Saturday, January 25, 2014

Say what you mean to say, but ...

...don't you dare make something up to make yourself look good, or make me feel like you care, when you don't.


WHY am I on this topic?
I was reading Facebook posts on what not to say to pregnant women or adoptive parents.

And it got me thinking. 
And yes, I am as guilty as anyone about this subject.

Do we give out false compliments that end up hurting someone?


First, a wee story.

Years ago, like, 15 of them, there was this (for real) wonderful lady in the church we attended.

No, no names. 

I mean, AS IF??

Anyway, she was one of those women who EVERYONE adored. You know the kind I mean, leads Bible study, visits the elderly, cooks for the folks who can't, preaches, teaches, and generally rocks the Casbah and is downright pure awesomesauce.

A truly, genuinely NICE and loving person.

And I wanted her to like me.

And I don't think she did.

Many of you are thinking "really, why not? You're just so warm and fuzzy and calm and haven't an ounce of judgmental snark in you!"
Oh, and the mutated way I view the world has nothing to do with it either.
Or that I grew up in a big city church and rubbed elbows with all kinds of people who blew me away, and this lady didn't. 

I mean, DID I have an air of  "No, darlin', you don't impress me much, but keep trying, maybe one day you will."?
Did I have the air of "big city girl does time in small town"? Probably. 

At the time, I was still STRUGGLING with the fact that we were in a place I hadn't wanted to live. Ever. Not my whole life. And whoaaa, here we were.

And there was Mrs Supergirl, parting the crowds with her smile and hugging as she walked through the throngs of admirers.

But not me.
Never me.
Ever.

But, I sort of got an attitude. I think. 
Anyway, I started to feel like, "ya know, I don't care, I really don't" when I really did. NOT because all of a sudden she picked me for the team, but because she'd look at me like "hey, Trainwreck, how ya doing?"

So I tried to behave. I know, stop laughing. 
I TRIED to be worthy.

*I* tried.

Then one day, the woman who NEVER SPOKE TO ME EVER, was walking out the door as I was walking in, and she grabbed me by the shoulders and hugged me and blurted out something that sticks with me and resonates for all the wrong reasons.

"You're doing a wonderful job as a mother." 

Then she was gone.

So was my respect for her.
Instantly.

Why?

She never asked my name.
She didn't know my story.
She didn't know ME.


So why did that statement insult me so much?

If she didn't know me, she didn't know my kids and she had NO idea about my life. AT ALL.


So, what am I saying?

If you are going to up and give out a whopper of a compliment, KNOW to whom you bestow the words.

Because when you grab someone by the shoulders and say something like that. Say it in a moment when the listener can soak it up and let it wash over them.

There are SO many hurting people in the world. 
Don't toss kind words under the wheels of life. Give them out so that they are rain in a desert.

Be sincere.
Be real.
Be an oasis.

3 comments:

  1. I'm exhaling. And inhaling. And exhaling again.
    Yes.
    God, yes.
    Preach it, sistahfreind. And don't. Ever. Stop. Being. Real.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Cathy!

    There is nothing more heartbreaking to a lonely person TRYING to keep it together than to have someone important come along and slap them upside the head with a compliment that looks and sounds great, but is entirely meaningless.

    Kindness takes a split second.
    Rudeness does too, but then it keeps on taking.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A thought - it being a small town, could she have known something of you, and your story, by reputation?

    And might you have been as intimidating to her in some way, as was she to you?

    People who are respected, are big fish in a small pond, can be acutely conscious of the fact that their range is limited, and it could have been the bravest thing she did that week, hugging you.

    I could be totally wrong, and if so...well, I've been wrong before.

    ReplyDelete