Sunday, January 8, 2017

It seems I look a lot like Hillary Clinton..... trying to decide which voices matter

Y'all, this really happened. 

I was at the grocery store last night, soup aisle to be exact, and I scared a man half to death.  Like he saw a ghost, or a scary monster, which made me feel really self conscious because he was looking straight at me.  First he made this little startled jump move, then said, You look like Hillary Clinton.  

So then I asked him if he thought Hillary lived in the neighborhood and shopped at the Kroger.  We became fast friends and he seemed genuinely glad that I wasn't her.  Then he talked about my hair - but didn't mention if he cared for my new bangs or not.  He told me that if I just had a little more on the sides, fluffier was the word he chose, then it would be Hillary hair.  Then he told me that he hopes that I don't have her heart. 

But the thing is that this wasn't the first time someone has said this to me.  A couple of months ago I was at work and a man I hardly know said the same thing.  And years and years ago, the same report came from our older next door neighbor.  Seems to be a running theme - old men don't like Hillary,  and they love to tell me about it.  All because I happen to have short blonde hair. 

Here's where I thought I'd do a side by side comparison:  

Hillary is lovely and accomplished.  I genuinely think so.  But I wear rock star boots and have an awesome ear cartilage piercing.  Yes, we are both strong women, but very, very different.  

I've always been one of those people - the one others like to tell things to.    There was that day, again out shopping, when a cashier told me all about how his knee hurts because back in the day when he went out dancing with his cousin, the cousin brought a heavy set friend who fell on him and he's never been the same since.  And people love to tell me their very private business, often detailing bathroom habits and intimate details of their romantic relationships.  It's a curse of having kind eyes. 

But the ones that rock my world are the people who say things that are both unkind, unthinking, and usually just mean.  A few weeks ago a lady at work asked me how old I am.  I told her I wouldn't say and she didn't like my answer.  Sometime last year  - right in the middle of class, a participant asked me these exact words - What's going on with your tummy?  What was going on with her brain????  And of course there was crazy Miss Vera who told me she could see through my pants and that I wore them that way because I wanted people to look.  Did I mention that she was crazy? 

But I think the absolute worst was the day when a lady came to me after class and pointed out a particular part of me, .... not my kindness or my careful attention to my craft.  Not my experience at what I do or the quality of instruction.  Not to thank me for my time or preparation, but to point out a physical characteristic of mine - and then tell me that I'll want to do something about it.  Her words were this,....and I won't ever forget, because I can't......  Kristi, you're a beautiful girl.  But you'll want to do something about _____________________. 

And I know I didn't cry immediately and I know that it took every prayer I could send up via emergency delivery to keep from it.  And I know I tried to be gracious.  I thanked her for coming to class, and for giving me what she considered to be valuable advice.  And I remember telling her that I've always looked like this, and that she was the first one to ever find it of value to say something about it. 

Then I went home and I cried forever.  And I made an appointment with a medical spa to get an estimate on fixing what I was just told was wrong with me.  The truth is that  I can't even type these words without tears.  Maybe she thought she was giving me caring advice.  Maybe she was being mean.  Maybe she just didn't think about it at all that day, and never has again.  But I have. 

Much like the time a million years ago when I was supposed to sing at my great grandmother's funeral - and it was a disaster.  It really was.  Number one, it was a big mistake to agree to do something like that when already emotional.  But no matter, it didn't work out.... but what I mostly remember about it is that most people were kind.  And if not kind, they were silent.  But one day, years later, instead of insulting me out in the open, my mom insulted me by proxy.  She told me she had a phone call from a cousin and they laughed about who that unfortunate girl was singing trying her best that day. 

Y'all, I can't help but ask what love should do in that situation.  Love would be silent.  Had there really been a phone call and discussion over my misfortune, love would've said, But her heart was beautifully in the right place, and I'm so very proud of her for it.  And love would've built a wall between me and any chance at hurt.  Because love never seeks satisfaction from the discomfort of others. 

I'm not saying that love should've stood between me and the guy at the Kroger yesterday.  But human kindness and respect should.  I can't think of a time that I have ever walked up to a stranger and told her that her tummy is causing me concern, or that she should consult a plastic surgeon.  Or for that matter, that they look anything other than lovely.  I always remember our first trip to D.C. a few years ago.  And walking through the subway platform, a lady stopped to tell me that I looked beautiful in my dress.  Wow.  Those simple words coming from an unexpected place, are still with me today.  What an act of love from a stranger to reach out and affirm another person.  

Y'all, we need each other.  Maybe more now than ever.  There is so much disconnect and sadness everywhere we turn, and the world takes care of that all on it's own.  I don't know if you're much of a Satan believer.... is he real, is he not real?  The Bible says he is.  And I promise you that he takes delight in our pain.  He recognizes our weakness and calls it by name.  Then he uses it to his advantage.  He can take what we think is secret to us - our doubts, our insecurities, our hurts that we've carried for years - and bring them out into the open for all the world to see.  He breathes life into our pain, taking it from a whisper into the only voice we can hear.  Then he laughs and calls it a good day.  

And as much as I know this to be true, and promise myself to be kind to Kristi, it's just so easy to let my weakness become my strength.   Y'all, the careless words of others aren't random.  They are messages sent to dispel our worth.  When right there in our ear all day long, God is whispering love.  You are my beloved, in whom I am pleased.   

I think the hardest part is trying to decide which voices matter. 

Here's my challenge to you.... Wouldn't it just make someone's day to meet a stranger and say to them, Hello new friend, You have nice eyes.  You have great style.  I like your hair or your shoes and can I trade kids with you for just one day because yours are so great!  Wouldn't it even be nicer to just smile at the person next to you in the soup aisle and ask them how they're doing today?  I'm in. 

post script.... I  love you and I love your comments.... but remember that this is a politically neutral site.  I don't want to know how you feel about Hillary so don't even bother to tell me.  I'm happy to discuss the ins and outs of her pantsuits and/or her hair, but I will immediately delete any comments that are not positive.

post post script:  Did you miss my last post?  Here's everything you ever wanted to know about our vacation and our new year.   

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