I watched today as a friend made an open declaration via social media. Something he really didn’t have to do. In my mind, it made no more difference than if he stated he was wearing blue socks instead of brown.
The reason for the declaration was secondary to a couple of very fulfilling accomplishments he has been celebrating (and continually working on) as of late. Yet because of one small part of one of the accomplishments he was judged, so he chose to share that he was judged.
But aren’t we all (judged)? Don’t we all (judge)? Judging can really take on two forms, can’t it? If you choose to support someone you are positively judging them and offering them support because you agree with what they are doing or what stand they take on certain topics. When it’s all good, judging someone is ok. What about when it’s not supportive judging? When it’s hurtful and critical and well, judgmental? Is that ok? I guess that comes down to how the person being judged chooses to deal with it.
This all brings me back to a quote I have sort of adopted over the years. This same quote has been the banner for my blog since the day I started it:
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” ~ Lou Holtz
Sometimes we don’t know how to handle what life throws our way. We can at times base our choices of how we respond on what everyone else will think, especially when we are younger. Who we are can be so dependent on how we think others view us, and many times that’s true, but it’s also very sad.
As we grow, learn and experience we come to realize that what others think, while it is important, doesn’t have to define who we are. We don’t have to have everyone’s approval nor do we have to feel the need to live up to everyone’s expectations of how they feel we should live our lives.
There are three significant times in my life that I often draw on to reflect when I feel I could be judging something or someone that I have absolutely no business doing. These three times have been life lessons and each has been taught to me by a different person, for a different reason.
First was almost 12 years ago and it was taught to me by my baby girl, Emily Ann Rose. I have never gone through anything as humbling as giving birth to a child who was not alive. Going through childbirth only to say goodbye to a baby I never had the chance to say “I love you” to certainly makes you realize what’s important in one helluva hurry. Emily taught me more about life without her living than anything else in my 43 years.
My second life lesson came a year later when my best friend was diagnosed with cancer. I was having a hard time with it once she started her treatments and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go see her or not. I’m not good around people who are physically ill. I am almost phobic about being around someone who is throwing up. I was talking to my sister about this one day and I was telling her that I didn’t know if I’d be able to go and see Debbie. “What if she gets sick? I don’t know if I can handle it?” My sister has always been so good at (figuratively) slapping me upside the head when I needed it. Her answer went something along the lines of “Gee Trace, I’m sure given the choice, Debbie wouldn’t want to be going through this either and I think she’d really like to have her best friend by her side. This isn’t about you.” This isn’t about you. This isn’t about you. Those four words were possibly the most powerful four words she has ever spoken to me. She was right. And I am thankful to this day that we had that conversation because she helped me get it. She helped me get over myself and be there for my girl through her illness to the point that I was at the hospital with her during tests and I was at her side every day during the time she was sick. I was in the room with her family, holding her hand when she took her last breath. My sister and my best friend gave me my second life lesson ~ it’s not about me.
The third one that stands out in my mind came from my better-half. I can’t remember what I was ranting and raving about standing in our kitchen one day (see, it was really that important for me to have been ranting and raving about that I can’t even remember what it was now) but Mike let me go on for a while and then he looked at me ever so calmly and said ten words. “It’s only an issue if you make it an issue.” Wow! There’s that slap upside the head again – this time with a brick. I think it was the most profound statement he ever said to me. He’ll never ever understand the impact those words had on me at that specific time in my life, for whatever reason.
These three times in my life all have one thing in common. They were all based on how I chose to react. What I chose to do. The choices we make have a direct influence on how we judge (positively or negatively) what others do . If we cannot be at peace with decisions we have made in our own lives then it’s only too easy to shoot our mouths off and negatively judge decisions that others around of have come to terms with in their lives.
We all have to have those A-ha Moments. We all have to have those moments that define us as a person whether others agree with them or not.
For what it’s worth (and I know he certainly doesn’t need my approval or praise by any means), I want this guy to know I’m proud of him. Not just for what he did today but for everything he had done since I have known him and for the person he was before I knew him. Collectively, he’s got his act together. There were bumps along the way ~ no one lies in a bed of roses, but given some of the decisions and choices he’s been faced with, I’m proud to say I know him and I am eager to see where his journey takes him next.
My Dad has been known to say that you can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. At the end of the day if you can be pleased with yourself, that’s all that really matters.
Until next time…