a few weeks ago a dear friend from high school posted this picture of me on facebook. i’m totally embarrassed to share it here, but i thought i’d be brave to make a point.
yes, i was the basketball homecoming queen my senior year of high school. don’t hold it against me. and yes, homecoming queens and cheerleaders can be nice people, ha ha.
i hadn’t looked at this picture in years, but when i did, this thought crossed my mind: if they only knew.
yeah, that was a terrible night for me. 4 months before that homecoming game i had an abortion and was still healing. i was a mess inside, like a big hot mess, and no one except for my very best friend knew what happened to me. i was so adept at hiding my pain that everyone around me never saw anything but my smiling face, my kathy’s-got-it-all-together-ness. they had no idea that i was filled to the brim with shame and self-hatred, that i could barely breathe. my insides and my outside are completely opposite of each other in this picture, but no one knew. they didn’t have any idea of the battle i was fighting inside my soul.
it made me think of how easy it is to judge others, to look on the outside and be jealous, to be judgmental, to think of ourselves as better-than or less-than others because of what we see on the outside. we do it with homecoming queens, we do it with co-workers, we do it with people at church, we do it with people on the streets, we do it with people sitting next to us on buses, on trains, on airplanes, we do it just about everywhere we go.
but the truth is, every human being–every human being–is fighting some kind of battle.
addictions to drugs, alcohol, porn, work, food, unhealthy relationships, gambling, spending.
the fall out of painful divorces
cutting and self-harm
caring for ailing parents
longing for a child, a spouse
shame, shame, and more shame
the trauma of sexual abuse
the deep wounding of physical and emotional abuse
death of a spouse of a kid of a friend of a family member
loss of jobs
insecurity & unworthiness
pressure to succeed
you name it, someone’s struggling with it.
it’s probably the guy at the grocery store or your neighbor or the woman you are standing next to at a soccer game or your mom or your dad or your kid or the person on the pew next to you or the one with the microphone or the one opening the bible or the one with big letters behind their name on their business card or the one holding a sign on the street corner or the one writing you a ticket or the one annoying the hell out of you for some weird reason or the one teaching your kids or the one fixing your car or the one you are sitting next to on the bus or the one standing in line in front of you at social services or the one who just came out as gay or the blogger who just wrote something that pissed you off or the one who signs your paychecks or the one who leads your small group or the one who stumbles out of the bar drunk or the one who keeps posting irritating things on facebook or the one picking up the bag at the food bank or the one paying for their groceries or the one smiling as they walk across the basketball court in a gold dress and wave to the crowd.
yep, everyone’s fighting some kind of battle.
God, give us eyes to see beyond what’s on the surface.
give us ears to listen beyond what we hear.
help us learn to live without assuming, without judging. give us hearts filled with compassion because of our shared humanity, our shared experience, our shared trying-to-make-it-through-the-day-as-best-we-can-despite-the-obstacles, our shared desire to be known and loved and accepted not for what’s on the outside but for what’s on the inside, too.
no less-than, no better-than.
no less-than, no better-than.
let’s be kinder than necessary. everyone’s fighting some kind of battle.
ps: june down we go column is up at sheloves magazine. the theme all month is “reclaim”–what’s under the rubble. may we reclaim God’s image in us and help others reclaim theirs, too!