March 18, 2011


"and we are so fragile, and our cracking bones make noise. and we are just breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys." ingrid michaelson

"be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." plato

recently, i witnessed 2 opposite events that really gave me an interesting perspective on people. my first story takes place in a room filled with individuals who see each other on a daily basis. they are all christians. they all know each others' families. they all have been friends for years. yet one side of the room was not speaking to the other. they were scattered in little clusters of 3 or 4 people, ignoring those who might be beneath them or those who had ever done anything with which they might not agree. some only spoke to others when forced by the tight space of the room. others intentionally placed themselves in the room so that their backs would be faced to certain people. and i walked into the room as a relative stranger to be welcomed by some and notably shunned by others. they all know me, but they don't know me like they think that they do. i was just a visitor. just a bystander. yet this group of superior people were trying to make me feel less in just the short time that i was there. i stood to the side to watch such big fish swim in such a tiny pond that they truly believed was the atlantic ocean. they bullied, cast aside, rejected others simply with their body language and when forced to speak spoke insincere words with fake smiles. and while it could be assumed that i was in a room of middle school girls, the room was filled with adults all old enough to know better. ironically, they tell others on a regular basis not to demonstrate their same behavior. but the ones who chose to exclude all shared the same sad frown. the same misery. the same inner unhappiness. and though they were obviously shunning me, i couldn't help but want to reach out and to embrace them.

my second story is just the opposite. i was visiting a church in tennessee where i knew less than 10 people in the room. from the minute i went to find a seat, i was embraced. random strangers were coming and greeting me and wanting to know all about my life. but the feeling they gave me couldn't compare to the one i received at the end of the service. in most churches, when the sermon is over and the invitation song is sung, no one goes forward. that long walk down the center aisle is viewed as a walk of shame, and there's nothing really inviting about it. but in this church, people started appearing from nowhere to go forward. before i knew it, the whole front row was almost completely full of people. and soon the second row was filled by people surrounding the others with support. people admitted and confessed their sins and were fully embraced by those around them. it was not a walk of shame but a walk of celebration. and those who chose to embrace all shared the same joyful smile. the same delight. the same inner happiness.

and those 2 situations taught me an invaluable truth: we are all breakable. we are all human. we are all imperfect. no one is superior. no one is better. no one ever attains the right to exclude. or to shun. or to reject. we are all fragile. we all need to be embraced. and we all have the inner need to embrace others.

but we say the most heartless things to and about other people without even thinking. we feel that we have the right to determine the weird, the crazy, the weak, the dumb all because of our own perfection and normalcy. yet we forget the fragility, the humanity, the brokenness of other people because we can't see that same imperfection in ourselves. so we shun. we reject. we cast out. we avoid. we neglect. we walk all over other people to make ourselves feel superior. we look for weakness in other people to make ourselves feel stronger. and we intentionally try to make other people feel inferior to make ourselves feel better.

but everyone is fighting a hard battle. we each carry our own struggles each day, some so evident and apparent and others almost invisible. and we also each individually carry our own pain, and many will never know what that pain is. one carries the loss of a husband. another, the loss of a mother. one carries the burden of cancer. another, the hurt of a miscarriage. one carries the feeling of rejection. another, the continued hurt of betrayal. one carries the burden of knowing that he or she has just done something totally unthinkable, and that person already feels as unforgivable as we could ever hope to make him or her feel.

and there is nothing appealing about us when we choose to prey on the fragility of other people. in our arrogance, we believe that we are doing the rejecting, when in reality it's the weaker, the inferior, the lesser people who are avoiding us because of our pride. and in our attempt to prove just how great we are, we instead prove that we are the true ones in need of love and affection.

but we are so fragile. and we are all fighting a hard, individual battle. and we are just breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

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