I was listening to a podcast yesterday (Up and Vanished-have you heard of it? If you liked Serial or S-Town, you’ll love this one). In it, the host was interviewing a woman whose son’s girlfriend had disappeared (presumably murdered). She went missing like 12 years ago, and the crime was never solved.
Her son was the ex-boyfriend of the missing girl, and a very likely suspect. His name was dragged through the mud. He had a hard time getting a job, finding a relationship, maintaining friendships.
However, he was never charged with anything, and he had an alibi. All of this took place in a tiny town in Georgia where everyone knew everyone. In a nutshell, so many lives were ruined by the murder of this schoolteacher, and then even more were ruined by gossip and speculation about the criminal.
In this particular episode, the host asked the woman to describe what message she’d like to spread to the people who had been following the case and possibly accusing her son.
Her reply: “I just wish that we could all learn never to speak ill of anyone, especially when we can just never know how our words might stick with someone.”
I have always known that I vent too much. That I too often say what’s on my mind, even if it’s unkind.
That my words flow easily and without enough regard for who I could be hurting. I usually rationalize this by saying I need a safe space to vent, or because I know I don’t have ill will toward the person, I’m just expressing my hurt or anger. Or because I often breath a sigh of relief when I realize someone else is thinking exactly what I’m thinking.
But, the truth is, my words can certainly pack a punch and I also know how awful it feels to find out things people are saying about you. I also know that sometimes I make snap judgments about adults and even the children at my school. I feel defensive about this, because sometimes there are just serious issues with parenting and neglect and it makes me want to lash out. But, if someone heard me…man. I would be so ashamed.
However, my lashing out and judging isn’t doing anything for anyone. And, let’s be real, I’m sure my parenting skills are also the topic of other’s conversations.
Along with words comes thoughts, however. The thoughts start first, right-so I’m scrolling Facebook and I think, “Ugh, she must never eat to be so skinny.”
“Must be nice to have all the money you want so you can give nice gifts to people.”
“Oh, well, ok, she can’t comment on any of my posts, but I see she’s on here commenting on everyone else’s!”
Seriously, Christy? Here I am whining lately about the “success” in my life has pushed people away from me, and I’m judging a Facebook picture because I think they have too much money. (Oh, and I use the term “success” lightly, but attention usually just makes people kinda bitter).
Anyway, I’d like to combat this, and if you feel so inclined, I’d love to have you join this challenge with me! I need a goal and an action plan in oder to get started. Otherwise, for me, it ends at good intentions.
For 2 weeks:
*Make EVERY effort possible not to speak unkindly about ANYONE (no matter how mad they make you!). Tell the people close to you (consider this my announcement) to try and help keep each other accountable.
*Clean up your Facebook feed. Are there friends you need to hide? Unfriend? Are there feeds that are depressing you that you need a break from? Make a contact list of “close friends” so that you can post just certain things to your closest friends and not everyone on your list.
*Limit your Facebook time to only one hour per day. Schedule it in (work around your own schedule) and do everything you can to ONLY go on during that hour!
What do you say? Are you in?
May 21-June 4th
I’ll check in with you on my Um, You Guys Facebook a few times between now and then. Comment here if you’re in!