So much has changed for me lately. Not for the first time. I can look back over all of the lives I’ve lived, and it makes me wonder whether so many who call me friend or follow my writing would have had anything to do with who I was. There is so much upheaval occurring in the world (and so it has always been) and so much of my online community is deeply rooted in the Catholic Church. My beautiful Church. I don’t talk about it much, but finding my path Home broke me utterly, tore my world apart, and only then could it save me. There is so much beauty here. So much history. So much love.
More and more frequently I come across people who toss “Praise God” into the conversation every third sentence: For the nice weather. For finding a lost shoe. For having the opportunity to go see a theatrical performance. For a weekend unexpectedly free of commitments. It is like being in a revival tent for inanimate objects. But should it come to living, breathing people, those with hearts and lives and families and dreams and fears, there is no praise, but only condemnation for anyone not living as they “should” or not speaking loudly (or angrily) enough against what they “shouldn’t” support.
Pay careful attention to the way people speak about others to you, for that is how they will speak of you to others.
When I hear someone talking about how someone else isn’t living out their faith “correctly” or hear people judging entire groups of people on their “sinfulness” or flaming writers for not using their platform “properly” or implying that anyone not walking through life on the speaker’s particular tightrope is basically headed straight for eternal damnation, I don’t think of them as judging “other people.” Those "other people": the lost, the broken, the different-- those are MY PEOPLE. That is ME.
While contemplating this, I remembered a book about shame by Dr. Brene Brown. In it she reminds her readers:
“Most of us are one paycheck, one divorce, one drug-addicted kid, one mental health diagnosis, one serious illness, one sexual assault, one drinking binge, one night of unprotected sex, or one affair away from being “those people”-- the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our children play with, the ones bad things happen to, the ones we don’t want living next door.”
No matter how charitable you think your corrections are, or how many holy words or deeds with which you manage to fill your life, it’s wise to remember that just because you haven’t had a stumbling block take you down YET, doesn’t mean you’re better than other people, it just means that you’ve been more fortunate than other people… so far.
We are all in this dust together. Be kind, friends. There are no “others."