Last night I wrote a letter to a friend who is fighting the victim mentality. I want her to know that not everything people do is aimed at her. Or anyone else for that matter. Sometimes it just is what it is. So tonight I’m writing to those of us, yes–including myself–who maybe forget we are constantly shooting arrows unintentionally and they must land somewhere.
Dear You (Me, Friend, Acquaintance, Passerby),
Sometimes folks do things that are less than perfect, things that unintentionally hurt you and others. It’s not meant to be personal. It just is what it is. And sometimes it is inconsiderate. Sometimes folks do things without realizing how their choices and actions are going to affect the folks around them. And sometimes they do it without caring or considering it at all.
There’s a patch of road that I drive on at least once a day where it goes from four lanes to two. When I’m heading home there is this merge area that really has little warning if you are not from here and used to it. It never fails that one car or three will think they are entitled to zoom ahead of the car/cars next to them, and so they do, rather than taking it in turns. They don’t even look to the side of them. It’s just how they do.
And that’s how it is in most of these situations. Folks are just looking out for themselves and they do what they do without even considering how it affects others and the consequences. It never even occurs to them.
So, umm yeah, this happened today.
My little guy asked me, after being excited that he knew that 5 plus 5 is 10, “Mama, is 8 plus 8 eighteen?”
“No. 8 plus 8 is 16. See?”
He sighed. “Well, at least I know what 5 plus 5 is.”
Dude. No! Now you also know what 8 plus 8 is. LEARN from your mistakes.
Please. For the love of everyone else who shares airspace with you. Learn from your mistakes.
And don’t make excuses. Oh my land. I was married to an alcoholic in my previous life and I have a dear friend who is succumbing to the disease now. I have heard just about any and every excuse you can think of uttered with the greatest conviction and sincerity possible. You’re not fooling me. Stop it. Excuses like you didn’t know or you didn’t mean to or well, hey, no one ever really follows that rule anyway. Or everyone else was doing it. *eye roll*
Your Mama raised you better. And if she didn’t, there’s a whole world out there who has shown you with their responses to your behaviors that maybe you might want to try something different. Learn from that.
Just stop it.
As my folks said more times than I care to admit, “If you know better, do better, and folks will like you better.”
And as Mama used to say, “Act like you are somebody,” with my addendum, “and treat everyone else like they are too.”
There’s a whole world of folks around you. Look around with your eyes and your heart and see how connected we all are. Everything you do affects someone. The arrows of insensitivity and unkindness and lack of respect we’re shooting off have to land somewhere. Live intentionally. Let what you do affect others in a positive way. Think before you act. Those magic words “I’m sorry” mean nothing if you are just going to turn around and do it again. Say them, yes, but MEAN THEM.
But if you do say them and you make an effort to change how you roll, grace will abound and most folks will forgive you–and you will be on your way to being the kind of person you were intended to be.
Our Wednesday book group is studying Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott. Today we talked about God’s idea of a good time as described by Ms. Lamott. She shared that it is those times, for example, when we take the time to speak to someone in the grocery store checkout line or let someone go ahead of us at an event or in the store or in traffic or we spend time listening to a lonely loved one. When we share what we have to give–that’s God’s idea of a par-tay. I immediately visualized bare feet dancing. When we are filled with joy in our house, we dance. And that was my vision of God’s reaction to our spreading goodness with our actions–Bare Feet dancing.
We need to make every effort to stop sending arrows into the air unintentionally. Let’s focus on making those Bare Feet dance. By sharing goodness and smiles and time with other folks. Willingly and graciously. Doesn’t matter if we know them or not–just say hello and smile for goodness’ sake and go from there. You can do it. I know you can. And so can I.
May the Dancing of the Feet begin!