I have done things. Bad things. I have stolen things. Lots of things – money, credit cards, possessions, and the answers to tests (blasphemy). I neglected my infant baby on more than one occasion to get high. I’ve lied and cheated. I used to bank at ‘Check into Cash’ because my credit was so low banks wouldn’t even let me set up an account. Embarrassing..huh? I’ve lost my temper. I have envisioned pushing people who have cut in front of me – whether it is in line or driving in my car. I’ve used excuses to get off the hook when I have failed at something or didn’t want to do something. I have had the audacity to judge people in their walk even though I was walking the very same walk at the very same time. Gross. I know. It made me feel better and that is all that matters. Am I right?! I have seen the inside of a jail cell (more than one occasion) and it wasn’t because I was working on the production set of an episode of ‘Beyond Scared Straight’ on the History Channel. The list goes on and on.
I know what you are thinking. “Why is this chick sharing these things? She is a wife, a mother, for the love of God, she works at a Church!!!” I am sure you are sitting there a little uncomfortable – shifting a bit in your seat. I get it. I’m a little uncomfortable writing it myself. But, I had to share because my six year old wouldn’t wear his vest yesterday while he was visiting the Seneca Caves with his camp group. That is why. For real.
We were recapping his adventure yesterday while driving and he was excitedly sharing some things he learned. His voice was confident and his eyes flickered with excitement as he shared fun facts about the discovery of the caves. It was a little choppy if I must be honest….something about two kids, a dog, and some hole the dog fell in followed by an apparent rescue. Sounds like he was recapping a ‘Lassie’ episode but we will roll with it. Then came the moment when he got quiet and lost confidence. His voice wavered a bit as he struggled to confess the sins of a six year old. “I didn’t wear my vest.” What?!?! The vest we were both excited to find in the store? The one where you stood up in the cart and tried on a few times? The same one that Anna threw a fit over because we couldn’t find one in her size? Uh, yeah, sorry about that people of Costco. “Andrew, why?” Brace yourself for his response, people, brace yourself. “Because…well…I didn’t want them to laugh at me.”
Stab me in the heart right there. My kid was worried what kids were going to say. The fear of judgment already warping his pure, good, sweet, beautiful soul. “I was afraid because no one has a vest and they would make fun of me.” Seriously, forget my heart, stab me in the eyes, brain….anywhere. “Andrew, Honey, who cares. You rock that vest. You be that trendsetter. Don’t EVER worry what people are going to think. You be you and you are freakin’ awesome!” I am sure his little brain is still trying to dissect what it means to “rock a vest” but I planted the seed of confidence and that is all that matters for the moment.
Yet, it reminds me how hard we have to continue to fight the enemy of shame, judgment, and embarrassment. It starts so young. So very, very young. How do we fight it? Honesty…truth….confession and a dab of compassion. Stop isolating people into a category and labeling each other. No one is perfect. You aren’t and I sure the heck am not. We all have done some stupid things. Some more than others. Nasty, ugly, yucky things, like pretending we didn’t see that person running to catch the elevator we were standing in. Hurry! Discretely push the ‘close’ button!! Then shout as the door is closing and only a mere crack is left, “Sorrrrrrrryyyyy! I tried!!!”
We have to fight. Fight hard against every single thing out there that wants to tell us we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, fit enough, skinny enough, successful enough, rich enough, creative enough, or funny enough. I’m talking to you Grammar police. We are bad. We did bad things. We are undeserving of grace and redemption. Society wants to isolate us into thinking we are alone and no one understands what we are going through. This is so far from the truth. Dividing us is such an old, tired tactic and frankly, as boring as Pokemon GO. Sorry, I know, I’m sorry but I can’t even deal.
I’m breaking cycles in my family and I am breaking them by sharing my story. I am breaking the enemy of judgment and the evil of shame. How can I lead my children if I don’t put it into practice? We all have been there in some varying degree. Instead of hiding it go ahead and share it and say, “Me too!” And do it while rocking that vest.