Did you ever have a person in your life that always looks at you like they have a serious bone to pick? As if they would really like to unload on you, if only they weren't so ladylike? Well, I do. She is a mom to a couple of boys that go to the same school as my kids. It is no lie; her kids are good kids. They are scouts, they participate in academic bowl and are quiet and respectful. Her oldest son and mine are the same age and are friends. Stephen is a good boy, also, but appearently not in league with "bone to pick's" boys. Whatever.
In sixth grade, Stephen, being insecure and not one to engage frontal lobes before speaking, made some off hand remarks about another boy while riding to a basketball practice with bone to pick's husband. The other kids laughed, which further encouraged my frontal lobeless son to entertain. Well, that was enough to entitle Stephen with the label of "negative, inappropriate and generally not the kind of boy" they wished their son to be friends with. Again, whatever. By the way, I didn't find this out until later.
In eighth grade, bone to pick's son and Stephen decided to do an experiment for science together. Most of the work was done at school, but the kids were encouraged to do some of the work at home together. Stephen was told by the son, "My mom said I have to do my half at home and you have to do your half at your house because she doesn't like you and you aren't allowed to come over." He was sad and near tears when he told me this. If you know me AT ALL, it may surprise you to know that I marched my mamma bear butt over to bone to pick's husband in the school parking lot to get the story straight. Surely it was Stephen blowing something out of proportion, or a misunderstanding! Nope. I was told, to my face in the parking lot, that my son was not welcome in their home and that he proved himself to be a boy they didn't approve of in sixth grade when he spoke unkindly about another boy. I tried to explain in my nervous, self deprecating way, that we have talked to Stephen a lot about that behavior and that with lots of reinforcement, we feel he has matured and understands how that behavior reflected badly on his character. See, I understand that insecure, immature young people will sometimes try to win favor of their peers by being funny and will sometimes talk crap about another person to build up their own self worth. Blah, blah, blah.... The rest of the encounter was uncomfortable and sad. I played through in my head all of the conversations I previously had with that family, the mom in particular, and tried to dissect them. What had I done wrong? Was it something I said? Am I a bad parent? How many people dislike me and my children and I don't even know it, and will I get to find out publicly in the school parking lot? Every time I saw them in conversations with other parents, I was most certain they were talking about me! I became crouching momma/hidden parishioner. For a very short time. Then I got over myself and said, "Everyone doesn't HAVE to like me". Hard.
That was a back story. Fast forward to last Sunday. There we were, in church, getting ready for mass. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a family load up into the pew a couple of rows back. I turned my head to smile at them, and it was the bone to pick family. They avoided eye contact (you can just tell) and I turned back to the front. Sigh. It seemed like I could feel disapproving stares on my backside. Probably tongue clucking and head shaking, too. (Okay, I'm exaggerating, here, but I was feeling kind of paranoid.) So, on with the mass. When Father Jim began his homily, I settled in to listen. (you have to settle in....it could be a while, if you know what I mean...) He began talking about preparing yourself and examining your conscience for reconciliation. He began naming sinful behaviors that are common, such as taking pleasures in lustful activities, abusing the body with food, drugs and alcohol, judging others, and.....WAIT A MINUTE! HOLD THE PHONE!!! I sat up straighter. Judging others!? My inner dialogue went something like this. "I hope they're listening! HA! That's right, you have sinned against me! You judge me, unfairly may I add! Take stock! Confess your sins and sin no more! Take that plank out of your own eye before you remark about the splinter in mine!" Stuff like that. Then it hit me. It hit me so hard I almost cried.
I am a hypocrite. I am a sinner. I am prideful and judgemental. I was actually taking pleasure in what I had hoped was their discomfort . What did I think was happening? Did I imagine a tearful confession of guilt in the parking lot after church? In truth, they may not have even seen us, or registered our attendance at mass. Again, I say, whatever.
Luckily for me, this is the season of Lent. More than any other time in the church, we are encouraged to attend a reconciliation service or simply go to confession. We are reminded of the suffering our Savior endured for us. We are forgiven, and we must also forgive. We are reminded to not have any bones to pick, and to forgive those who have one to pick with us. This is tough stuff, and I am prayerfully trying.
Thank you for letting me vent!!!