Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Feather Pillow

For over a week, I have been 'processing' (or going through the stages of grief) some really hurtful stuff said and spread about me. The words about me were either exaggerated from something that might have happened more than half a year ago or completely fabricated.  It is annoying, I know, but I have to be vague. Be assured, thank God, that this did not come from my immediate or extended family. 

A reputation is a very fragile thing. In today's world, some people might think that it isn't that important to have a positive reputation. We do not live in Jane Austen's time. We don't go to a house party with letters of introduction. Does it really matter what other people think about us? Does it really matter what others have heard about us before they get to know us? A reputation is so subjective. One word of slander can destroy it.

But I claim that one's reputation is one of the most important things. In this busy world of ours, we do not take the time to get to know others. We might judge them by their appearance and decide to write them off, making our potential acquaintance-circle smaller. They don't wear a scapular; they aren't Catholic enough. She's wearing a long skirt; I bet she would judge me for wearing pants. He's not my ethnicity; that's too complicated, so I'll stay in my bubble. Or we use someone's reputation (good or bad) to prejudge them. 

I'm not sure what my reputation has been. I have always had a reputation for being very 'quiet'- really I am a classic introvert who then tends to get too loud and opinionated when I am feeling comfortable. In school, I had a reputation for being a good student and also a girl who didn't go out with guys. Which came first? Because I've had -count 'em- one boyfriend in my life, I have never had a bad reputation when it came to guys. At homeschooling events, I probably have the reputation for being a helicopter parent. I don't like not knowing where my children are. At work, I have the reputation for being reliable and successful with my students. At church, I really couldn't tell you what they think of me. I'm sure I fall short when it comes to being an old-country-style (either village-type or big city-type) priest's wife. 

One's reputation is a feather pillow. When someone decides to speak slanderous words, they are tearing that pillow in two, letting the wind blow the feathers everywhere. Even if the person who told scandalous lies and hateful exaggerations of mistakes about another person tries to make amends, it is impossible to get every feather back. God can forgive the slanderer, but true reparations are impossible because the reputation cannot be repaired perfectly. Remember that 'telephone' exercise in school?

As always, the Bible has the answers for those who truly seek them. After this week, I am determined to follow the Biblical 'rules' for admonishing the sinner:

"If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Mt 18:15-17 
and from the Old Testament: "Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt." Leviticus 19:17 

So the Bible reminds us: Go to the person directly and privately so that they can change and make amends without being humiliated publicly. If your neighbor is doing something wrong, call them on so that you do not become bitter and hateful. If we Christians are not willing to adhere to these 'rules,' then we should just let the transgression go. Perhaps it was not such a huge issue. In all cases, if we are unwilling to talk to the person we have problems with ("Doctor, I am having a problem with every appointment starting at least 45 minutes late."), then we should not gossip about the problem ("Dr X is awful! Every appointment is at least an hour late! And then she spends less than 5 minutes with me!"). 

As for me, the 'wrongfully-accused,' I cannot fight back to try and repair my reputation. If I could weather this storm gracefully, I would be in the best company of my Lord and Savior. He was accused and He told His disciples how to respond: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Matthew 18:21 "Seven times seventy" Jesus' desire for us to forgive all is clear, and I am trying, but the non-saint in me is still very sad over my torn feather pillow.

18 comments:

  1. This is your best post yet, I think. Really thoughtful, vulnerable, and well-written. I know this may blow your anonymous blogger cover, but I (your youngest sister) always thought of you as a fun person to shop with, my favorite babysitter who let me stay up late and watch Toonces the driving cat, a coffee buddy, and your bedroom always smelled like roses. Oh, you also should have been British. Love you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Louise- I'm the least anonymous 'anonymous blogger' out there!...it's a good thing that the interwebz wasn't around when we were younger...then we would have stayed up late, surfing youtube (C is obsessed with fishing videos and talking dogs)

      Delete
  2. This can be very hard. I've been reading the book on Abbess Thaisia (http://www.amazon.com/Abbess-Thaisia-Leushino-Autobiography-Spiritual/dp/0938635425)
    and she went through this deeply and it was very stressful for her. In time God delivered her from it completely. May God be your support!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll look that book up- I like using normal people as inspiration...right now I am reading the Russian Orthodox book 'Everyday saints'- it is very, very Russian, but still inspiring

      Delete
  3. This is a rather deep topic. If we wanted, we could extend a discussion such as this, for a good period of time. I'm still thinking as I go; because of this, I apologize for any disjointed - real, or perceived - presentation of what I'm thinking.

    Immediately, as of this writing, I'm thinking, yes, reputation is important; and it's not, altogether. Without overly compartmentalizing it, I'd like to put reputation in various spaces. Now, if we're talking strictly interpersonal reputation, I think it'll shorten, or narrow, the scope of discussion.

    Where I work (call center), it's rather easy to put on a front, or a facade. Genuineness isn't the order of the day, for some people. Most of the time, I'm no longer too worried about what others think of me. They see me pray, during idle times. I only pray, to God, I - in the recesses of my noggin - am not doing this to raise myself. If I worry too much, I end up not being who I really am, and thus not expressing myself as honestly, as a human being (thanks Sijo Bruce Lee for that quotable quote). More later.

    I'll definitely keep you, and others who are going through similar concerns, in my prayers. I agree a genuine reputation is very important, particularly a reputation, as seen in the eyes of the Creator of all things.


    Another side note: Something like this has made me keep my circle of friends rather small, and intimate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for this! More thing that I have been very concerned about (perhaps overly concerned) is not being a scandal to others. I would never want someone to say- "well- being Christian is dumb and hypocritical...look at her over there, renting an R movie, saying a bad word, frowning at her kids, cutting me off in traffic, etc etc" I have enough sin on my own to deal with- when someone tells lies about me and it spreads, I become a scandal even though I didn't do anything! Now- I hope and pray that others who hear these lies will either 'blow it off' because they know I wouldn't do what was said o they will come to me DIRECTLY and ask for clarification

      Delete
  4. You are blessed by the Lord with such a clear mind and a calm spirit. I'll keep you in my prayers. Stay strong, and remember that the Lord never leaves us (His children) desolate of His help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erin- I am working on a calmer spirit! Thanks for the encouragement

      Delete
  5. I had the same thoughts as "Fluid" up above. There are certain people (I am tempted to say most!) whom we should not care what they think of us. Also, compare your situation with people who have truly been accused of something completely false. Accept any correction that may be slightly true; the rest can be offered up in unity with the saints. Earlybird

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Earlybird- yes- I am open to correction (even if it stings) and I am trying to ignore the lies...it is hard when I want to talk to the people lying about me...but at this point, I am waiting to process my hurt feelings so that if I do say something, it is calm and loving

      Delete
  6. Love this post. I can hear my grandma say "consider the source". Some people are always trying to find any insignificant thing and say it was significant. You are doing a Herculean job and they have too much time on their hands.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmm...that sounds like something MY mom would say! ;)

      Delete
  7. It's hard to argue that reputation means nothing when these people are paying your husband's salary, are your only social life, and provide your housing. this is at least my point of view as a khouria.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Khouria, that's a perspective I failed to consider, when I responded, initially. I think of the lessons, when I took linguistics courses, in college. I think the course topic was language and culture. We discussed the levels of speech: basic, median, and elevated (in linguistics, they're basilect, mesolect, and acrolect, respectively).

      We can look at the way we present ourselves, in a similar light. I'm already thinking of arguments expressing a fear of a false front being projected by segmenting types of presentations one gives, to different audiences.

      You generally would still express your thoughts, or yourself, honestly, but they take on different forms, depending on the audience you're addressing.

      There is a danger of paralysis by analysis, which has been addressed, throughout.

      Delete
    2. I guess reputation 'should' mean nothing because it is so easy for an evil person or a person with an agenda to ruin someone's! But yes- Kh Jen- it is everything...I really don't know why. Why should we put more stock in what other people say about someone instead of our own experience with the same person?

      Delete
  8. To be hurt or damaged, unjustly, gives you the opportunity to, sometimes, walk in another's shoes.

    There are those "out there" in positions of influence and even of power and authority, who are in denial about the horrendous harm and evil they do, each day, while claiming to represent Christ.

    Many are clergy and the like. Perhaps, this will awaken you, I hope, to the reality of people like myself, who have and continue to hold up under terrible unjustices, in my case, supported by functionaries in the Catholic Church, up to and including the Pope(s) who refuse to address out pleas.

    Your husband, being a priest, I hope, when he hears stories calling into question the actions of those he may think very highly of, rather than discounting them, carefully listens to complaints or allegations.

    I have no idea of the wrong(s) you have suffered, nor do I condone them or say they are or were justified. I am saying, however, at least in the case(s) that I am, personally familiar with, that injustice which is intentional, exists, without question, from the Pope, yes the current new Pope is corrupted in his views on social actions, at least regarding marriage and his predecessors were as well, on down and NO ONE in the Catholic Church, who is in a position to force change or blow whistles, has the integrity to help those like myself who have been asking for help, for decades.

    God ask of those he loves, what they can bear. I am a better man for the turmoils I have lived through for decades but, there is no justification for it and to say that this corrution I continue vto see in reprobate men like Pope Francis, is the work of the Holy Spirit, is outrageous and absurd. Learn from your pain. If my words upset you, reject that upset and accept thde truth I am witnessing to you. It is a gift from God.

    I am not saying that Pope Francis and the like are thoroughly evil. I am saying, in his case, he is doing serious damage to innocent spouses and their children over unjust divorces, by openly welcoming their persecutors, without, first, requiring the repentance from their unjust actions and first, requiring, restitution. That, scratches the surface. He has a world-wide stage. I understand he is learning the ropes and needs time but he is not 25 and his predecessors chose to remain corrupted throughout their entire reigns, in spite of huge evidence of their damage.

    I am sorry for your hurt and any damage to your reputation, sincerely. But know, others suffer much more and no one listens in the Catholic hierarchy. My suffering is trivial, compared to stories I have heard. Those like myself are scum to most priests and bishops, although they even lack the integrity to say such to our faces, as they fawn over openly unrepentant adulterers, in the sight of innocent, impressionable children!

    No one cares. Open your eyes, my dear, to just how dirty the linen is in the Church, which God DOES love, and so do I.


    Karl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karl- it is true that this experience has made me more understanding of others who have been unjustly accused

      Delete
  9. Easier said than done, I know...!

    “A soul that is nurtured by hatred toward man can not be at peace with God, Who has said: If you forgive not men their sins, neither shall your Father forgive your sins (Matt. 6:15). If a man does not want to be reconciled, you must at least guard yourself from hating, praying with a pure heart for him, and speaking no evil of him.”

    + St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Love, 4.35

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! Contribute to the conversation so I am not talking to the ether! (posts older than 2 weeks will be moderated & posted ASAP)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...