I don't live in secret. I don't look over my shoulder to see who might be watching me. And living this way is a choice. I choose to live out loud and not as a whisper.
I remember two distinct times in my life, making those choices. Once was in school. Most of my middle school days were spent with me being quiet. If no one noticed me, then no one would continue to make fun of me. Well, that didn't work and I wasn't happy. When I entered high school, I changed my mind. I was going to put myself out there. I was going to talk to people. And I wasn't going to feel embarrassed. Yes, I actually told myself that I wouldn't be embarrassed. Of course I was, but I didn't let it stop me. I reminded myself that my happiness in the next four years of my life rested on my decisions to not live in the corner anymore.
The second was as an adult. I had three small children and was pregnant with my fourth. My marriage went thru a very rough time. It's a small town. Everyone was talking, accusing, and making assumptions. The rumors flew like crazy. And I found out during that time about privacy settings on social media (myspace back in the day), as I had been stalked online. I could have cried with everyone and played the victim. I could have stopped being online all together and hid from those who would seek to destroy me. But I didn't. It was very hard.
Have you ever walked in to a room knowing that everyone was looking at you, talking about you, judging you, and/or pitying you? It's a tough walk. But doing it with your head held high is character building.
I refuse to live in the shadows for fear of people's opinions. It's a choice. It's been a choice. And it will continue to be a choice. Even with this week's disruption, I don't question this choice.
A very hard thing this week was watching my child feel bad for telling the truth. He felt bad that he told people that mommy accidentally scratched him. I know his mind was thinking that if he had lied and said it was a tree branch, or a toy, or anything else; that no one would have called and reported me. He wanted to hide the truth because of someone else's judgments. I assured him that he was just fine. Telling the truth is always the right thing to do. I wouldn't ask him to keep a secret for fear of what someone might think. I wouldn't ask this of him a week ago, and I certainly wouldn't ask him now. We tell the truth. And we live our lives. We don't walk in the shadows to avoid judgment. People will always judge, no matter what. Someone's narrow-mindness will never be a restriction on my life. And I pray the same for my children.
Tonight I am thankful for an opportunity to show the kids to always remember what is right and to always be themselves. Taking the right path is not always the easiest; but it is always worth it.