Dear Lauren and Lydia,
There is more than one way to skin a cat. OK…first off, we love cats so that is not about being mean to a cat. It’s more for me to get your attention :). It’s an old saying and simply means that things can be accomplished in many different ways and still be effective.
We are women…I know, this is deeply profound, right :). We often have words in our home that are not great. Unkind, one upping, condescending, etc. It’s all very normal women conversation, sad but true. I’ve lectured on it, disciplined for it, gone round and round on it with little actual moving forward in my opinion. But just this week we’ve had a break through.
It’s worth documenting…
This week I watched a short video on empathy vs. sympathy how the one hears a situation and says “well at least_________________(whatever they think the silver lining should be.)” It comes off condescending. It’s rude. We all do it far too easily. The other way is to just listen and sit with a person and not need to add anything except presence or a simple response letting the person know they’ve been heard.
So often in our home we all get talking at the same time and things get said and the other two people do the “at least” type of statement or the “you know______________” statement. Which is really annoying to the person who shared. Lydia…I’m going to be honest, as the youngest in our home it happens most often to you. I guess Lauren and I feel like we’re older and wiser and need to set you straight pretty regularly. We don’t mean to or plan to but it just happens which doesn’t make it any better.
This week it happened again and as you tried to explain how you felt we all got a little giddy and started one upping each other on purpose just to be silly. In fact you went around one upping yourself, even though you could hardly do it with a straight face :). Last night we literally sat in the Steak and Shake parking lot eating our dinner in the car (not healthy…but real) seeing how much we could one up each other. It was hilarious. It was a great way to take a bad habit and way of life and exaggerate it to the extreme to prove a point to all of us that any time we give silver linings and one upping and “at least________” comments we are being condescending…thinking we know more and are better than someone else.
If anyone could have heard our conversation they would’ve thought we were insane :). But it was absolutely hilarious and has definitely made us all aware of how often we make ‘leveling comments” to each other. Lydia, that’s what you called them last night and that term is exactly right. We worked so hard to make leveling comments to each other in humor that it actually got hard to do. What happened in the humor is that we suddenly realized that none of us is better than another. Nobody is helped by someone else’s leveling comment. We stripped away pride and arrogance and laughed about how foolish the whole thing really is.
Empathy is exactly that…a stripping away of ‘knowing more than” of ‘being better than’. It’s actually a blessed relief to set that whole pretense thing down.
I want you to remember the humor of this week for the rest of your lives. I want you to hear leveling comments said in the world and in our home and immediately know what they are. I want you to know how to have empathy rather than false sympathy that really doesn’t care for anybody but oneself.
Humor is far more powerful than we realize. When lectures fail and punishment and repeated redirecting…sometimes humor provides a break through. Last night that’s what happened. God was there with us. Teaching us how to set aside our pride and arrogance and helping us to learn to see how foolish those kind of comments really are and how hurtful they can be.
We’re making a change…we’re being the change. No more leveling comments. No more false sympathy. No more thinking I’m better or you’re better…we are all sacred creations of God. No more arrogance or pride. More connection. More listening. Less talk.
I love you girls…I will remember last night’s conversation and silliness for a long, long time :)
Love your momma