Hearing Others Stories at the Table
I have taken pride in being an empathetic & listening heart person. But, in taking the time to self reflect and ask tough questions, I've realized how in many ways in just this week I have not.
Let me give some context. As a mother, you keenly become aware of your own child's weaknesses. So much so, you can clench them tightly; disallowing anyone to find those soft spots to possibly harm them. These can easily put a mama (maybe this one right here) on defense & in battle mode.
Because you fiercely love these little rascals, no matter how many times you tire from asking them to "use their words" or "we get to help out even when we don't feel like it." Yet, I see the love is clouded when I'm willing to defend, or protect from hurt (or the possibility of it) only my child without seeing the other families in my midst.
I had a good talk with one teacher at the school and she knows my girl, and loves her. She advocates for her, and yet advocates for the other kids as well. Meanwhile, I am recalling the week's events thinking my child has been hurt, or the kids aren't valuing her specialness; as I'm thrown to the ground in mire covered realization how I have only turned to look at my story.
It's easy to gather scraps, bit by bit making a quilt of defense truths, which inevitably are only shard versions of the truth. It's not a beautiful mismatch quilt your grandma sewed from the family tree scraps. Rather, it's become a distorted story with no inner dialogue or character engagement.
Today as I began to hear the underbelly of others stories, I realized how much we need this at the table. How easy is it to build a master thesis based on reading one post someone shares on Facebook? How easy is it to build a story of presumption on someone based on their Instagram account (be it "they're perfect, because look at how their home, their family appears seamless even in their supposed messy home" to "doesn't she know that posting that many selfies points to low self-esteem?").
I know I do it all the time. I can tear someone down, in order to build myself up. What's more, is how I tear them down, fill in their story blank, in order to protect myself and my family. Because for me to be exposed is one thing....but, have my children exposed is something far greater.
But, as V shared how she felt sad at school one day from what someone had said to her, I listened and reflected. I realized I held the various chapters in my hand for her to read. The one I chose went like this, "Sweetie, I'm sorry that person spoke to you like that. You did nothing wrong and didn't deserve it. I guess that's why we get to chose love. There's always going to be someone who doesn't treat us well. It's why Jesus came--to be love. This world needs that love and we get to be the ones to give it, even when it's hard."
Isn't that what it's about?
We don't know others whole story on one glance; but, we do get the privilege of inviting them to our tables to share their stories. As we do this, we press into love and it presses into us.