Brutal honesty here.
So tonight I realized that I have an ugly and unkind heart. Well, being charitable, maybe it’s more of an ugly and unkind streak in an otherwise earnest and hopeful heart. At least, I’d like to think so.
How did I learn this awful truth?
I saw a social media post from an individual who was reaching out humbly for some support, not knowing where else to turn. The person was one whom I knew in passing and observation. Not personally…because for one reason or another – I can’t really recall – I never cared for that person, so I began to regard them with disdain.
It started with dismissal and light mockery in my head and a nickname I bestowed (I thought it was witty) when talking to my friend. I think I just found the person an odd bird at first, and then pretty soon, our limited interaction served only to confirm my self-fulfilling thoughts. At that point, anything that was said or done just added weight to my opinion. Without any understanding, armed only with my assumptions, I was pretty smug. And so it was easy to write this individual off or use them as a punchline. I got a lot of mileage out of it.
So then tonight happened.
And it was then I realized that this was a real person with a story, and I was a petty, self-righteous hypocrite. I wouldn’t be able to live up to my own standards, and yet I felt comfortable judging someone for — what, exactly? Being different. But aren’t we all? I let my initial impression morph into something ugly and unkind, and I went along for the ride. In my imagination, I’d already written some backstory that fit in with what I thought I already knew, which was mostly my creation. I never realized how far I let it go until now.
I’m sure it took a lot to ask for help. Most of us have too much pride for that, don’t we? And it’s easy to judge a person who offers up too much information, laying themselves bare and open like that. Too needy. Attention whore. But I still believe that it took courage for them to ask, knowing they could easily be humiliated.
It put a lump in my throat, quite actually.
I’ve been judged and I’ve been misjudged. I’ve been mocked and dismissed and treated ‘less than.’ And I didn’t like it, and I didn’t deserve it, and yet here I am puking it out of my own mouth. Shame on me.
My mother’s words are in my head: You are not perfect, either.
She’s right, of course.
And I’m sorry. I pledge to start fresh and extend a hand to this person in some way. The post has received a lot of positive response from others, and I am glad to see that. I am ashamed that mine is not among them. I have to work on my own heart and mind before I can reach out to that person, but I will, you can be certain of that. Because I just saw myself in a mirror and I don’t like what I saw.
In closing, I leave you with this:
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
image credit AhmadHammoud