Who knew a simple statement, one sentence, can change how you view yourself. I became very sensitive to everything that was said to me. I internalized words and took them to heart regardless of the intent. I was a wounded bird trying to erase my past, but somehow, I was letting my past suffocate me.
Scott and I had just moved. I knew very few people in our new area and this worked well in my favor. I choose to stay home a lot and not get to know anyone. At this time, I was a preschool teacher. I loved my job. It was perfect. I poured myself into my work. I let my work consume me. It was easier this way. By keeping busy, I could forget my past. I didn't have to make friends.
Then it happened. It wasn't even about me...but the conversation made me realize that all my fears of others judging me and not accepting me were right...
We had made plans to go out as a group. We all road together. We parked the car. We didn't get out because someone was revealing some of the latest gossip.
"You know, she had an affair right?"
"Who would ever do that? That is the most selfish thing anyone could ever do! You have to be heartless."
"She is a terrible person for doing that. I can't believe her husband still loves her. They are still together you know. If I were married to her I would have kicked her to the curb."
As the conversation went on and on and on for what seemed like forever, I sat there in silence. Utter silence. I was in shock. I was fighting with all my might to not let the tears fall. I was fighting against all my power not to yell at this group of women to tell them they were wrong. I don't know if the rumors were true or not about this particular person. It didn't matter. What mattered was I wanted to give these women a piece of my mind.
How would you know. How dare you judge someone else. You don't know the story. You don't know what it's like to be in her shoes or her husband's shoes. I can't believe how shallow and mean you ladies are. You are supposed to be christian women. Women who love others and judge not what others do. I know because I have been there. These things you are saying about her..are the same things you would say about me if you knew about my past. I had an affair. I must be heartless. I must be so selfish. My husband must hate me. But you are so wrong. My heavenly father paid the price of my sin. He has cleansed me as white as snow and my sin is no more. I am forgiven. My husband still loves me because my God is good. He has taken this mistake to grow my husband and I closer together. He has taken this sin and washed it away. How dare you judge someone and their situation when you don't know anything about it.
But instead, I kept silent. I knew that if I said anything, that I too would be judged. They would not like me anymore. If they found out my secrets, they would be saying these very words but only it would be about me. So, regretfully I didn't say a word.
After that night, I was busy building walls. I was never going to let these women ever find out my secret. I saw these women in a different light. I doubt they ever looked for the truth in that rumor. I decided that these women were not very nice. I began to distance myself from them. I was once again lonely because this whole time I was right. If anyone found out about my past, they would judge me. They would spread rumors about me. They would hate me too.
My heart is still so raw when I reflect on this story. That night was over 5 years ago...and it is still so clear in my mind. To this day, I regret not saying anything in the car that night. It makes me so sad to know that there are people in this world who poorly judge others. I did take away two important lessons from that night. The first is, I will try really hard to not judge others. I don't know what their situation is. It is not my place to judge and I refuse to build gossip and bind those lies to anybody's situation. The second thing I learned is that those women were never really my friends. My heart was crushed when I realized this. It has caused me to be very careful when making new friends.
I did made some authentic friendships from that wonderful job, friendships that have lasted this long and that are continuing strong. These friends know my past, my sin and my story and they love me for all that I have overcome. They love me for me. They are proud of the person I am and most importantly, they don't judge me for what was done is my past, but accept it as part of me.