On Saturday I went on a “Healing and Wholeness” course run by the Church of England for those of us interested in prayer ministry and healing prayer. It’s a two-day course and I’ll write about it next weekend after I’ve completed it ‘cos I know, I KNOW…it brings up all sorts of ideas about those awful American preachers who pray on the vulnerable and perform fake miracles and take people’s money. I know. But it isn’t like that (not when it’s done right) I promise. Anyway I’ll have more to say about that when I have actually completed the course.
i just brought it up because it’s a preamble to what happened as I was in Chatham (again, I know). For those of you unfamiliar with Kent based snobbery perhaps the below will help you:
As they say in Croydon “it’s rough ends”, and I mean, that’s saying something ‘cos parts of Croydon aren’t exactly lovely.
I Digress. I was in Chatham, the church was obviously active within the community (always nice to see) and the people from Rochester Diocese all seemed very nice, the day ended I had to walk back to the station. It was about a 20 min walk along a busy road – the speed limit was 40mph and there were cars, buses and lorries. I was mostly thinking about the course and about the steak I was going to eat for dinner later. Food is never far from my thoughts.
Anyway, I suddenly became aware that on the opposite side of this busy road at the bottom of an approach road (which was residential) was a little boy, aged about 3, smartly dressed in shirt and chinos. He didn’t seem to be accompanied and he suddenly made like he was going to run into the road which was full of traffic. I shouted at him to “stay there, stay there!” a car that had luckily managed to stop slowed and thanked me as she drove past. The bus driver who was coming on my side of the road also had quick reactions and stopped to let me cross to him.
I realised straight away that the little boy had a disability, I kneeled down to his level to ask him “where’s Mummy and Daddy?” and he responded but with sounds rather than words, I tried several questions to try to illicit where he had come from, to no avail, two men walked past and said “he’s first house on the left love” in a tone that implied this wasn’t his first jaunt out alone. I said “shall we go and find them (Mummy and Daddy)?” In an excited voice to which he seemed to assent before darting off up the middle of the side road – I followed managing to steer him onto the pavement before we rounded a corner and saw mummy/auntie/carer running in the other direction looking panicked.
As I had just finished reading Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” I tried to show this woman as much grace and compassion as I could, I informed her where he had been but in a non accusatory tone, I joked with him that he mustn’t run off as people would be worried and she thanked me before having to chase after him as he had darted off again.
It would be easy to have judged her, and if I’m honest, I did a little bit at first, but that is my failing and not hers. I don’t know how hard it is to look after a disabled child, I don’t know that he has run off before, I don’t know her past, her struggles, how well she is managing or not.
Brene Brown writes that we all experience shame, an example of shame would be thus:
“let’s say you forgot that you made plans to meet a friend at noon for lunch. At 12:15 p.m, your friend calls from the restaurant to make sure you’re okay. If your self talk is “I’m such an idiot. I’m a terrible friend and a total loser” – that’s shame. If, on the other hand, your self-talk is “I can’t believe I did that. What a crappy thing to do” – that’s guilt”.
Shame makes us act crazy, when we experience it we lash out, we say hurtful things, we try to deflect the shame. I know I do. Therefore, If I had shamed that woman, she may have responded in that way, and, as I said above, I don’t know her circumstances, so why do I have the right to judge and shame her?
I will re read this book, it is a “game changer”, I will try to build up my “shame resilience” as Brene calls it and move toward wholehearted living. Brene says:
“Empathy is a connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole”.
We all need that ladder, because we all fall into that shame hole – I know I do. On Sunday I was offended, it was unjust and unfair. I have needed to talk about the incident with friends and family, so that when I deal with it I do it from a place of empathy, rather than shame. I choose to believe that people are mostly trying their best but sometimes they react to things from a place of shame and if you do so as well it will only make the situation worse.
Everyone is trying their best, so am I.