My iPhone updated me with the news this morning: Matt Lauer has been fired from the TODAY show due to “inappropriate sexual misconduct in the workplace.”
Can I tell you that I am officially exhausted by this? By life. By people’s choices. By their demeanor, their character, and their interactions with other human beings. I am exhausted by the constant heartbreak.
I know I’m not alone in this – I’m well aware that this is a collective lament and that each of us “has a story.” The problem is, we have so many stories. Every day, there is something we hear or see or read about which grieves us. And that new hurt compounds with our old hurt(s) and the cycle keeps going and going and going and….
Make it stop. It needs to stop.
But that’s, I think, part of the reason I don’t. I can’t. If I stopped to think about all the pains in my life – both past and present – I’m not sure I could do every day life. It would be utterly overwhelming.
From #MeToo, to friends and family members committing suicide, to broken families, to cancer, to seeing my child and other children hurt and not being able to fix it, to being shunned by my church “family” when my life didn’t look like theirs – it is quite a list alright. And an incomplete one at that.
The older I get, the more I realize all the brokenness in the world. I know it seems like such an obvious statement – but the statement is on repeat every day. When you hear something about yourself enough, you start to believe it. This is no different. When we see so much hurt and angst and misery and debauchery in our world, it is hard to feel good about anything, especially and including ourselves.
What’s wrong? people ask one another.
Nothing, they answer.
Because it’s EVERYTHING. Everything is wrong. Or at least it seems.
And at the crux of what someone else’s “EVERYTHING” is is someone else. A person or people who have hurt them.
Matt Lauer gets fired? He hurt someone else.
Someone takes their own life? Someone hurt them by not being there for them.
Divorce? People are hurting each other. And then, those same people hurt generations thereafter.
Cancer? Someone’s body is hurting. Death because of it? Other people are hurt by the loss of the deceased.
I know these may seem like generalizations. Certainly, situations vary and have individually unique and extenuating circumstances, but I’m fairly confident that in most situations, the generalizations hold true.
I’m also to the point in my life where I feel confident in saying, “I’ll think what I want, thank you. I’ve earned it. Feel free to disagree, but do so in a mature and respectful manner or please shut up.” We all get to the place, eventually, where we lose the guilt in knowing that haters don’t matter.
All this to say: when I read things like I read this morning and it’s ONE MORE case on top of ONE MORE case – that kind of compounding math is heavy to add up.
Do I know Matt Lauer personally? No, but I could have told you (and did tell my friends forever ago [during the Tom Cruise “glib” interview] that he was a smarmy, narcissistic prick) he would do something like that of which he is being accused. I have seen it too many times. Personally.
Part of the reason my Spidey-senses (read: Italian temper) go off when people judge other people is that I have been on the receiving end of #MeToo more times than my memory allows itself to recall.
A man not understanding (disregarding) what the word “NO” means.
A man who was well-known in the small community where I grew up coming into the golf clubhouse where I worked and grabbing the front of my shorts. I was fourteen.
A man with a C-level title watching me, as a twenty-two year old trying to work hard and break glass ceilings in corporate America, walk into his office for a meeting and greeting me with “With legs like that, I’ll buy whatever your selling” instead of a handshake reserved for his male counterparts.
A man sitting up in his truck as he passed me on the highway yelling at me as he yanked his pants down.
A man positioning himself next to me in a swimming pool and asking me to take down my top as my parents and sister and our family friends with their teenage girls were outside enjoying our vacation.
A man who systematically and purposely made me feel safe under the auspices of a “Christian friendship” over the course of three years and ruined my sense of safety and understanding of what it means to be Christian.
A man who was the husband of my mom’s work best friend accosting me with his eyes in front of both of them. And my Mom inexplicably somehow being upset with me.
A man walking by my best friend and me looking at me like I was food and he was starving. And my best friend feeling left out.
A man at work who tried to be helpful and my sister asking me if I slept with him and that’s why I have a good job.
I could go on.
I WILL GO ON.
I will believe in the good of humankind as much as I forgive them.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been judged. All by the outside. As a teenager and young woman, I didn’t actually know that was what was happening – I just thought I was doing something wrong. While I am a lover of a good To Do List and being able to check things off one by one, it took me so many years – SO.MANY.YEARS – to work through the (partial) one listed above. To reconcile and trust and forgive and at least try to understand where that kind of behavior comes from.
And the only answer I have been able to deduce is that it simply comes from fear. People are afraid of that which they do not know. That which they do not understand.
Every single one of those people who judged me didn’t know or truly understand me.
Every single religion that purports to being the only one – the only “right” belief system – doesn’t truly know or understand the others.
Every single hate group in our world doesn’t know or truly understand those whom they purport to hating.
Neither political party in our country truly knows or understands the other. (Or, much else).
In broken human minds, it is just “Them vs. Us.”
Everyone is so afraid that, at a minimum, their worldviews don’t matter and, at a maximum, that they don’t matter.
But we do matter. Each and every one of us.
It’s a precarious time to want to go into the ministry, but I am doing it anyway. I may not know what “religion” to preach (or, more factually, what “religion” will have me if I don’t check all the legalistic boxes), but I do know what message to preach: Love. Sameness.
#MeToo, because #WeAreAllInThisTogether.
Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a hater. Don’t hurt other people. Don’t be afraid.
Be a believer.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. –Matthew 11:28