I genuinely have laughed so hard writing this blog and honestly forgot that this even happened, but for whatever reason it came to mind a few weeks ago. Although it’s a serious topic, I’m grateful I can look back and laugh.
I think we’ve all at one time or another experienced unkind words, gossip, and ridicule. I was homeschooled, so I was spared a good amount of the ridicule that students face in school. However, having a father in politics certainly made up for the unkind words I may not have experienced from my time in middle/high school. I think by this point most people know my father has thick skin. You really can’t upset him by ridiculing him, so instead, people resort to criticizing or ridiculing my family. It’s not okay and it’s not right, but it’s the reality.
For whatever reason, our current culture seems to believe that social media is a free for all. You can say what you want, because you’re looking at a keyboard, not a person. Social media is a convenient portal between our honest, raw, and sometimes terrible thoughts and the reality of humans. It’s very easy to type up hurtful words when you don’t have to see the direct impact they have on real, living and breathing people.
I remember a couple years back I stumbled upon a Facebook feed of comments. It began with talking about my dad and then somehow ended up talking about me. Now, I had no idea who these people were. So, I’m not really sure how I found this feed, but I saw it (and remembered it) nonetheless.
There were several comments and said things like-
“Hasn’t she competed at Miss Alabama like 5 times? Shouldn’t she be Miss America by now?”
“She’s had every title possible… Miss Gulf Coast, Miss Hoover, Miss Leeds, Miss Piggly Wiggly….”
Now, thankfully I have a great instinct for comedy and I think this is ridiculously hilarious. With that being said, it’s clear these folks don’t know me because if they did they would understand “Miss Publix” is a much more fitting title considering I’m there about five and a half times a week. I love me some Publix. But, I digress.
Now, 3-4 years ago I wouldn’t have thought this was funny. It would have ripped me apart to see grown adults feel it was OK or appropriate to ridicule someone they had never met. I’m incredibly proud of my accomplishments in pageants even though I was not Miss America and I did not win Miss Alabama (Although I did make top 12 😉 ). I’m proud of myself and any other woman who has the guts to step on a stage and be vulnerable. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and I doubt people would ridicule if they understood the amount of hours and dedication it takes to prepare for something like that.
Although several years ago these kinds of comments would have deeply hurt me, I now understand. I get why people write the unkind things they do. Often times, it has more to do with them than it does with you.
The truth is, a lot of people in this world are hurting. They are experiencing loss, grief, sadness, depression, anxiety, and worry. We’ve all experienced at least one of those things in our lifetime and I think we could agree we aren’t necessarily the best versions of ourselves when we have those emotions brewing. I know I’ve certainly not been the best Bailey to the people around me when I’ve experienced sad or stressful seasons. (Sorry fam)
There are some people out there who are just mean and they’ll be that way until the good Lord softens their heart. However, there are also people out there who are just hurting. I can look back and laugh about those comments now. I realize they probably didn’t actually have anything to do with me, but stemmed from something else.
When people make fun or hurt us, our natural first response is to try to hurt them in return in order to make them feel what we feel. But maybe we should first try to consider, what are they feeling? Why are they lashing out like this?
Now, words can hurt, there is no doubt about it. But, I think unkind words can be more easily be overcome when we realize what they are stemming from. We can then start to dissociate those words from ourselves and realize they are more about the person that said them and what they are going through. Often times, insults are a reflection of that person’s internal battle.
In my life, I’m currently in the process of learning to see past gossip and mean words and in turn, feel empathy for that individual. I’m not perfect and I’ve certainly said some unkind things in my life. I hope those people have had grace with me. And, I hope I can extend the favor of giving grace when people say unkind things about me.
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