Bitter, resentful, judgmental, jealous and just plain mad. There are days when those words describe me better than the words I have been trying to emulate in the past. Have I been grossly mistreated? Have I been wrongfully accused of heinous crimes? Have I been persecuted?
My persecution comes from the silence of so-called friends who are so busy living and loving their lives that they don’t pick up the phone to check on me or even comment on my facebook status. My punishment for the crime of devoting my life to serving my husband (sounds like I’m a martyr doesn’t it? Definitely NOT a martyr, just chose my priorities) and family to honor what I believe God wanted me to do is a severe lack of outside friendships.
There are days when I try to analyze the whole situation and increase my effort to be more visible to others but it doesn’t matter. I am always needed at home or at work because there is always such a long list of things that need to be done, so I can make myself visible at the park for an hour but then not be able to get back there for another two weeks because of the workload at home. Then, after a while, I look at the whole situation again with different eyes and realize that my life is so incredibly different from everyone else’s that I have no justification comparing myself with others and feeling “jealous”.
Then I read a story about a family that had to go on food stamps because they just weren’t making enough money to be able to pay their bills and buy enough food to feed everyone. It describes how they ate mostly cheap food in order to not have to use food stamps, but none of it was nutrition, especially for growing children. They did this because of the stigma of judging eyes all around assuming that the parents were unemployed and lazy, taking advantage of as many programs as possible to keep them from having to work. Then they realized that those judging eyes had no idea what it was like to be in that position and the shame that they felt every day because, as hard as they tried, they weren’t able to pull ahead even a little financially.
I was just the same, except I was assuming all my acquaintances were full of friendships and love every day because they showed it all off on facebook. And I was jealous. What I didn’t see was the lack of love in their primary relationships, say with their spouses or children. They were spending so much time going out to dinner or to fundraisers or other public functions where it was more likely to run into acquaintances and friends that they were neglecting the important relationships that typically anchor a peaceful life.
This made me think a little differently. If any of these people were to give me and my life a second thought at all, how would they feel? My suspicions are that they would feel a little jealous too because my life is full of peace and joy (when I’m not being stupid and looking at everyone else). My children (now grown for the most part) see their parents as weird and goofy. They don’t want to admit it, but they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that me and my husband are lovers as well as best friends. They also are more comfortable talking with us about anything, well almost anything. My son still has a hard time talking about sex but he will find a way when it becomes important to him.
I guess what I have realized is that we are all judgmental in some way, even when we desperately don’t want or intend to be. We decide how good or bad another person’s life is going before we give them an opportunity to defend or justify their lifestyles or actions. This is the crux of the problem running rampant all over this country with shootings, police brutality accusations, kidnappings, child abuse, bullying, suicides and everything else.
Jesus told us in Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look a the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I’ll bet if we were to put our own mistakes and misgivings on facebook, not the “feel sorry for me” pleas but true confessions of our own humanity, then we would all be a little more forgiving of each other rather than accusatory. Love would be more a part of our daily lives and we would rush to help one another immediately without checking our calendars first. Either that or it would be the Death of Facebook, which wouldn’t be so bad.