This last week has been tough for those of us who believe the best about humanity. There’ve been a lot of hits. I’m always disappointed when I watch people attacking others … even when they believe they’re in the right. Bullying bullies isn’t any better than the original behavior, no matter the justification.
But I was tipped over the edge yesterday … in a little town post office. It had been at least a week since I’d picked up my mail, so I thought it might be important to check. As I was leaving, a woman came in and said, “You’re from Nebraska?” She’d seen my license plates. “What are you doing here?”
I told her that my family had some land up here and since I was a writer, I spent time there doing what I do. She asked my name to see if she might recognize it. Nope, but that’s okay.
Then she told me that her daughter wrote science fiction. I asked about it and the next thing she said was, “It’s horrible.”
I was taken aback. So I asked if she read science fiction. “No,” she responded, “but even if I did, she’s a terrible writer. I tell her that all the time.”
Whoa. She wasn’t kidding.
We both got back in our cars and I sat there for a moment … stunned.
Who does that to their own child?
And we wonder why there are so many broken people out there in the world. Folks, this woman was only a few years older than me. She raised kids along with my age group. This isn’t about how the olden days were better. All of us from those wonderful olden, golden days have been raising the kids that are messed up and are raising their own broken children. She drove a decent car – it isn’t about living in poverty and not having enough. She spoke articulately – more than likely had a decent education. There is no excuse that I can attribute to this behavior.
My heart broke for her daughter, who never heard the words “Good job.”
In fact, it wasn’t even about the writing itself. This woman took it one step further and made it personal to her daughter. The writing wasn’t bad – the daughter was a terrible writer. Think about the distinction there.
What words do we use every day? Maybe we believe snarky, nasty comments will help others get better. We’re wrong. From those we love and trust, those comments eat away at the parts of us which respond to love. This is an impossible cycle to break.
I don’t have the heart to come up with a funny story today. My heart still hurts for the brokenness that shows up so regularly. I want to thwap some people upside the back of the head and others, I want to hug so tightly they can feel what real love is.
Words matter. Fill yours with grace, mercy and love as we begin this Advent season.