The Culture of Negative Comments

Some of my greatest insights into her day come when I snuggle up beside her right before bedtime.  This is where she gained her nickname, “Chatty Maddie.”  Last night, as I cuddled up beside her, she taught me a great lesson, as goes much of parenting.

My eight year old daughter is training in a group of six girls (3rd and 4th graders) for a 5K race.  Madison begins to tell me about a new 4th grade friend she has in this group of girls and then she tells me something that stuck with me.  (I hope it will forever.)

“Mom, yesterday, we ran so much!  I was getting so tired and I said to my friend, ‘This is so hard.  I don’t think I can do it.’  And she said to me, ‘You can do this Madison!  You’ve got this!’  And know what?  It made me run faster when she said that.”

Drop the mic and walk away.  What more do we need to know?!  What a precious gem that my grown up culture needs to learn from that precious fourth grader!

Living in the year that I do, I get much of my news from the internet.  Call it positive or negative, one of our modern features is that the general public can comment on ANYTHING…and they do.  Aaaaaand I have pretty much stopped reading the comments.  Know why?  Because comment after comment, down to the one thousandth comment, they are mostly all negative.  And here is the thing, here is what gets me.  It is people that agree with the article (usually that is why they read it in the first place) but they feel the need to give negative feedback.  It usually goes something like this:

I agree with this but you should have also said this…

There was a mistake in your fourth paragraph.

I agree with what you wrote, but your outfit looks horrible in your profile pic.

If this insane impossibility happened, this would cause me to disagree with this whole thing.

“I could have written it better.”  And everything inside me screams, “THEN DO IT!  Stop talking and do it!”  We have become the culture of tearing each other apart!  When someone is tired, we just push them out of the way thinking it will make us look all the better when someone else fails.  Our culture is tearing itself apart from the inside out.

I adore the quote from Ben Carson that, “When the jihadists get here, they’re not going to ask you if you’re a Republican or Democrat before they cut your head off.”

Are we so worried with proving ourselves right that we tear each other down, weakening our world for the true enemy to invade?!  AND THEY WILL!  We need to learn to get along sooner than later before it is too late!

Speaking to myself first, I want to be more like my daughter’s fourth grade friend that sees people that are tired, that sees people that are about to drop out of the race and I want to encourage them, “YOU’VE GOT THIS!  COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT!”  I want to be someone that builds people up, rather than tearing them down!  I want to be part of the solution, rather than adding to the problem.

Let’s all remember the lessons of our childhood.  Stop tattling!  When is the time to speak up? When someone else is getting hurt.  Are babies being murdered?  This is the time to yell at the top of our lungs and do everything we can to stop it.  “Disagree comment” away!  And then there is a time to say:  Is this just a mistake the person made?  Keep my mouth shut.  Is this something that I should address with only the person and not all of public?  Go to them privately.

Or is this a time that I need to help this person?  Do I need to run alongside of them and encourage them, YOU’VE GOT THIS!  YOU CAN DO IT!


I’m a Big Girl Now

From a little girl, my eyes were peeled, scanning the room for opinions of others.

Does she like what I am wearing?
Did my words impress them?
How does my hair look today?
Does everyone approve?

And on and on the list goes! I was looking, looking, looking to impress.

Fast forward. I am in my thirties. Caroline is on a treadmill beside her husband, surrounded by supermodels, and I am center stage at the gym. Since this time, we have joined the YMCA. Love the Y. This other particular gym held our membership for about two months. I think every member of the gym was a pro-athlete, model, billionaire …everyone except me.

But here I am, these are my surroundings. I have my ears plugged, listening to music, and running. My husband (who does fit the hottie stereotype that I am surrounded by 😍) is running (much faster) beside me. I see his lips move. Oh, I pull out my earbuds. I turn to hear what he is saying to me. Running. Running. Turning my head. …I am not that coordinated.

SMACK! Caroline is trying to do too much at one time. I’ve lost it all. Desperately gripping the two bars beside me, it is all that keeps my face from smacking the moving treadmill. However, my legs are not so fortunate. They continue to drag on the still running treadmill.

It seems like eternity passes. This is what I hear as I go down: Deep, sympathetic oohs and ahhs as everyone watches me wipe out. Completely wipe out.

After eternity, James pushes the off button. Every single eye in the gym is on me. Waiting for tears. Waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Waiting for me to run and hide and never be seen again.

What do I do? I stand up. I return to my treadmill. I look at James and I make a realization, I say, “I am not embarrassed.” I step up and I continue running.

This was a point in my life. Lots of moments have led up to this point, but here I realize, “I could absolutely care less what other people think.” Not in a rude mean way, but in a I don’t get embarrassed anymore way.

What happened? So very much!

After showing “all” to bring a baby into this world, after being infinitely loved by the most perfect man alive, after walking through life with the badge of Cancer, after picking my nauseously sick body up off the floor and giving all I’ve got to face another day, after the God of the universe shows me his glory and realizing that I am a princess of the king of kings, after wearing five year old homemade jewelry in public, yelling in Target at the top of my lungs because my toddler disappeared around the corner…after surviving this life and this story that I’ve got, I have learned what really does and does not matter in this life.

I guess I am a big girl now.


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The Needless Journey

Energized by the crowd, he shook to loosen his muscles, stretched his arms across his body, and then lifted them and waved.  The people cheered and sent him on his way.  The sun warmed his body, skin exposed in his summer attire.  He felt as if he could run forever, like he had wings carrying him along the way.  Those he passed waved and called him out by name.  He ran and ran and ran.

The day got long and his legs began to ache.  It was time for a break.  Pushing his body, he jogged to the next street and then found a nice restaurant.  The staff was friendly, delivering his cuisine with a smile and with kind comments of wander and amazement of his successes.  His waitress was pretty and she smiled long smiles and laughed at appropriate times.  “You are so big and strong.  But I think it would help if you would take some food with you.”  So she packed him a bag of food and sent him on his way.

Carrying the bag of food in one hand, he continued on his travels.  Running and then  eventually slowing his pace to a jog.  On and on down the dirt road.  The area was not as populated now.  He jogged past cornfields and he jogged past fruit groves.  But there was a pain in his calves he could ignore no longer.  He jogged and jogged and jogged and carried his bag of food.

He needed a place to sleep and finally he came upon a barn.  Calling out, a gruff voice answered, “Who is there?”  He did not sound so kind but upon explaining his journey he responded, “This once, I will allow you but take this sleeping bag with you on your travels, you should not be trespassing on private property.”  He thanked him and laid down to rest his body.  With the sun going down, he laid down on the hay.  With the call of the rooster, he awoke with a jerk.  He did not mean to sleep this long.  He must continue on his journey.  So he stood and stretched his aching body.  He carried his bag of food in one hand and his sleeping bag in the other hand and he walked and walked and walked.

There was not a part of his body that did not call out for relief.  His feet were blistered from his old shoes, stomach achy from improper nutrition, back sore from lack of a comfortable night’s rest, and his very skin was red from the sun that shone down and mocked him.  The hardest part of his journey set in his path, he tried not to think of the tall mountain, it seemed impossible, he just put one foot in front of the other and continued on his way.

Needing rest, there was none to be found and soon he found himself at the foot of the mountain.  Looking up, he could not see the top.  There was only one thing to be done, his arms hung by his side, each clutching their materials and one foot at a time, he continued on his journey.  He climbed and climbed and climbed.

The air grew thinner and he soon found that he was lacking in clothing.  Chills formed on his legs and arms.  The wind began to blow and pushed against him.  He tried to cover himself with the sleeping bag.  Clutching the ends and pulling them up around his chin, he continued.  His bare, scrawny legs dangling out and shaking from exhaustion and cold.

Nothing filled his mind, nothing sang, nothing laughed, nothing smiled.  The journey.  He pressed on and on and on, pushing into the cold, bitter wind, fighting the physical pains of his body and ignoring his lack of company.  He suffered and suffered and suffered.

In the distance, something glowed.  It became the focus of his mind.  He pushed and pushed and pushed.  One step, then another, then another.  He lost track of time.  He did not know how long his journey had lasted, but one more step he must take.  His body fought back hard and his will pushed him another step until he collapsed in front of the glow that had grown until, in his last recollection, he realized it was coming from a fire, shinning through a window, placed in a large house.  And he collapsed at the door.

The shock of hospitality.  Taken inside from the now snowy woods was instant relief.  To rest in front of the glowing fire brought more than he had hoped for.  The offer of a hot bath was more than he could comprehend.  The hot dinner that was placed before him was more than he could put into words.  And the invitation of staying in the plush bed finally brought tears to his eyes.  He had reached his destination.  His son climbed up into his lap and hugged his neck.  His wife stared into his eyes and made him promise never to leave them ever again.  He had found what he had been searching for:  home.