Thursday, October 16, 2008

Soapbox it is...

Let me go ahead and say right out of the gate that I am going to be as discreet as possible about the situation that has really burrowed it's way under my skin. Because the bottom line is not about this incident, as much as it is that there is a BIG ole lesson to take away from it.

So the Reader's Digest version is this: Yesterday I was having a conversation with one of my friends when a lady, who I barely know, walked up who fosters and adopts children. We chatted pleasantly for a few minutes about hair (because that's what womenfolk do) when my friend said to the woman that she didn't know how she did it with 15 kids. At that point, I asked her how many children were hers biologically (none of the kids were around).

Let's just pause for a moment so that I can say that I honestly didn't realize that this was an offensive question. I just didn't. Sort of like an American going to Australia and giving one of the locals a thumbs up (don't do that by the way). It's rude, but most of us wouldn't realize that unless we had researched Australian culture. Similarly, I have had no dealings with adoption, so it never-ever crossed my mind that it might be unmannerly.

Now I can see how someone might feel that it undermines their family, as it's explained here, but that's not something that the Average Joe just immediately "gets". I am definitely one who can accept gentle instruction, and I will be more careful from now on because I have been made aware. Please read the link if you are, like I was, going "what's the big deal".

How-ev-er. What I CAN'T handle is when someone freaks out and absolutely goes on the attack when it's completely obvious that the person asking isn't doing so to be mean, or should I say "stupid". Yes she did. Indeed, I was admiring her ministry.

Perhaps you will think poorly of me because I was so insanely mad when she went off like she did, that I wanted to take her head off, but maybe that can be remedied with the fact that I got up and walked away despite every instinct in me. My poor friend was so stunned that she quickly changed the subject with the woman.

So the lesson here is this, and I have thought long and hard about it for 24 hours now: Most of us have something that we feel misunderstood about. And there are probably alot of us that get sick and tired of having to go over it again and again with different people. It stinks, and I know that because feeling misunderstood can fall into just about anyplace that we feel insecure, and I can assure you that I have a second home in Insecureville, people (we won't even get into how pride plays into that).

BUT the answer is not to go slap off on people just because you are sick of dealing with it. I don't think that there's a number large enough to tell how many times I've had someone ask if my older two boys are twins because they look so much alike AND they are about the same size despite an almost 2 year age difference. Does it sting? YES. Do I go berserk? Heck no. I answer them kindly and if they decide to go on and comment about my son's small stature, I usually just come back with how he rocks gymnastics and that he couldn't do it if he were gargantuan. Most people aren't trying to be rude. And even if they are, what good is being hateful in return going to do?

I can also tell you this, when I came home and had a conversation with my friend Caroline about what had occurred, she remembered reading a blog post (linked above) about this very thing, so she forwarded it to me. It wasn't until reading THAT, that I was able to understand. It made sense to me after it was put kindly. I couldn't even begin to sympathize with her because I was so blinded by her hateful words.

The Bible tells us that, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1) and I am here to tell you that I experienced this full tilt yesterday.

Now, I will step down again and hopefully let this trusty old box gather up a thick layer of dust. I hope I haven't made any of you mad and, lawsie mercy, if this is your first time here, Puh-lease know that I am usually not usually aggressive and preachy. Because if you do walk away thinking that about me, I will feel misunderstood and I might just snap your head off when I find out about it. Just kidding. ;)

Alrighty, I'm outta here. Have a good day, and for those of you that voted for favorite is raspberry.


Halfmoon Girl said...

Oh, your words here are so great! You are bang on, in my opinion. Most of us are open to gentle instruction, like you, and completely become overwhelmed when someone lets loose on us with their issues. Sorry it happened to you- impressed that you saw the lesson to us all in it. Good, good reminder. Sending you a hug 'cause I don't like my friends to get yelled at.

Mocha with Linda said...

Very well-put, my friend! I'm so sorry she jumped down your throat like that. You should have told her you were on a quest to give a million dollars to the person who had gone through childbirth the most, but since she refused to answer the question, she lost out! LOL

We just had that verse yesterday in our Proverbs study. Such an absolute truth.

Hugs to you!

DidiLyn said...

I surely do feel you here, friend. I spent a few hours in anger and tears because a sister in Christ went OFF on my husband because they disagreed on worship music in church.
Now THERE is a soapbox waiting to happen!
Am I right, ladies?
Why is it so hard for some people to practice kindness?

Way More Homemade said...

Even though I didn't vote, I'm glad we got the soap box. I love me a good soap box.

Sweet Gayle, I'm sorry you were faced with such abrupt and humiliating circumstances yesterday. I wonder if she has a blog and what she would be saying about the exchange. I wonder if she learned anything from it? I'm thankful that you have the humility to do just that, allow yourself to be taught through difficult circumstances.

DaNella Auten said...

So... Lovin that Co-op huh?... Yeah me too. I think I have had that same conversation with that particular mom. She was tired or snappy or something yesterday. She told me about 4 weeks ago, that she doesn't make any diffrence betwean adopted, and bio, and as a matter of fact, it has never been discussed untill she got to this co-op. So if it helps any, I think part of it was she is irritated that it got out, and is afraid that the kids might hear, and be upset. I know, I know, I agree. Just tell them they are adopted, and that you chose them special. Well she ain't us... that is all I can say, cause that is what I would do.

And you are right, Pride and Insecurity go hand in hand. I am insecure about making the right decisons for my kids, and spending enough time with them while writing a book, doing photography, going to school, and looking for a job.

Anonymous said...

Girrrl.... I'm so sorry that woman went "Monkey Nuts" on you. I'm not sure how I'd have handled it... but you did... & did so with such grace~ :)
Let me just say... I don't see the big deal either... & certainly don't see why it was such an issue & not handled with kindness on HER part~
I love reading your blog...
Love you Friend...
Missy~ (TGR)

Emily said...

I was wondering if I had ever SNAPPED anyone's heads off like that...'cause I was at the end of my last shred of rope...I remember one!

It was a snotty woman who worried about my homeschooling, and proceeded to ask about testing and blah,blah,blah. I got red in the fact and gave her my speech on homeschooling. Not sure that's what she wanted to hear,but oh well.

The difference in the 2 situations, is that YOU were kind and sweet and had no 'tude attached to your question. So, maybe this woman was just DONE and reacted stupidly.

Which is what she did. She reacted stupidly.

Your attitude is a great one. By the fact that you were thinking on it all night long, proves that you're a great person who really cares about people.

That woman missed out on getting to know you. That makes her wrong in my book. 'cause you're totally someone she needs to know. ;)

Holly said...

Sounds like you are very wise in your response, dear one. And I love to hear how others deal with things like this--especially since I tend to crawl under a rock to avoid them!


Reformed Grits said...

Hey, what's her email address and I'll send her the link to this post.

Seriously, how immature on her part. On one hand you admire her for taking so many "forgotten" children into a home where the mama lion will take care of them and love them. And on the other hand it reminds us of how fallen we all are as parents. There's no telling what kind of day she had had.
Honestly, I'd be tempted to write her a VERY gracious apology letter.
Be bigger.
You are da bomb.

Bringirl said...

Insecurity and pride really do go hand-in-hand. That's a revelation in itself. It's no fun being blasted. I've been on the receiving end of one of those! You handled the situation with grace. Get up and walk away. Sometimes that's all you can do.

Duckygirl said...

Soap boxes from you are great! I actually clicked the link to figure out just why she'd even be irritated, so I learned something today :) Sorry she snapped at you, that's never fun.


Caroline said...

You did the right thing...walk away. I still think she should know that there are people out there that mean no ill intent by asking this question. I am sure she gets asked this a LOT! I get it all the time and I only have 5 kids. I just laugh. I wish she would have just laughed. If everyone would just laugh the world...oh wait...the coke song is now in my head. "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,

I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company."

Buy her a coke. Diet coke. ;-)

And your will now be singing this song in your head.

Angela; said...

Oh Gayle...I've had a similar situation. It was handled gracioulsy by the adoptive parent, but I truly didn't understand. The worst thing was that it was my daughter that causes the offense and she REALLY had no idea. It made me feel terrible for her.

Love & Hugs...

Angela; said...

Okay I'm back..I read the post. The whole attitude just doesn't set well with me. I'll go think on it....I'm sure there's something the Lord wants to teach me.

Meliss said...

(((Gayle))) Unjust judgment really hurts doesn't it?

Also, don't ever ask someone how many head of cattle that he owns. My grandpa asked a KS farmer that question to make conversation and the man got ugly about it. Apparently it was like he asked him how much money he owned.

Not that you'll probably have many opportunities to ask that question. ;-)

EEEEMommy said...

Fabulous soapbox!
Once, when I was a naive college student, I asked a man how much he got paid. Oops! He didn't react too pleasantly either, but I don't think he was a Christian. He firmly told me that there are 3 things you never discuss money, politics, and religion; since he didn't add adoption to the list, I probably would have my foot in my mouth too. Of course, I only open my mouth to switch feet.
There's another verse in Proverbs about overlooking offenses not to mention the NT verses about forebearing with one another's weakness. They all seem to apply to both sides of this. I applaud you for walking away gracefully!
You should try Jello Blackberry Fusion...yummy!

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

How rude! There is no excuse for her to go off on you that way.

carrie said...

well, I'd like to address your sudden anger. I am right there with you. I have commented to Charlie several times here lately when someone has said the wrong thing to me or whatever and the sheer hand shaking anger that I feel is enough to make me stop and wonder what is going on with me.

While, like you, I have just cause for such an emotion, do you wonder where it comes from; being such friendly gals that we are? I'm perplexed at myself.

And there was NO reason for her to jump down your throat. She should be gracious no matter how many times people ask. It is her lot with the adoption lifestyle.

That would be like celebrities complaining of people wanting signatures. It goes with the territory.

DaNella Auten said...

Q made the mistake one time of saying Step mother... and horribly offended a family in our church about 5 years ago... Diffrent church. This is what we learned.

No Offense; No Defense
When I was growing up, any time I said I was going to take a bath, my daddy would always say, “Don’t get wet!” As a five year old, that boggled my mind. There was no way I could take a bath and not get wet. As I grew, I learned that I needed to ignore daddy when he was picking on me.
As I thought about this Microburst, I thought of that statement, “These days, not offending a Christian is about as easy as taking a shower without getting wet.” No matter what you do, especially in a ministry position, you offend someone.
However, I can’t change them; I can only change me. These experiences led my dear husband and me to come up with a slogan: “No Offense; No Defense.”
That means if someone does something offensive to me, I choose not to be offended: no offense. I choose not to take offense to it. I choose to let it go. I choose to believe that they intended me no harm.
If I do something that offends someone, then I choose not to defend myself, even if I am right: no defense.

Dena @ Green Acres said...

If you would have asked "How many are yours", then yes, I could see her being insulted. But what you asked was IMO not a biggie. I have twins and another child and people always assume they are triplets. I know they aren't being rude. Some people are way too sensitive, and then there are those who I think love to find a reason to go off on anyone, any chance they get. You handled yourself with such grace! Well done.

Gayle said...

Obviously her issue, not yours. I've learned that when I get an irrational response it's really not my issue it's the other persons. Good on you for taking it to heart and being willing to see what might be in it for you to learn.

And oh Lord, help me remember this so I'm not the one going off!

chickadee@afamiliarpath said...

i think we all have things we are tired of explaining to people and tired of hearing (like "your stomach is HUGE!) but most of the time we answer gracefully. maybe she was having a bad day.

Kent said...

Poor Gayle! I tend to take the wounded, silent, crying route when my feelings are hurt!( or I am embarrased by someone jumping down my throat) Truly someone's response like that is more about them and their issues than anything you've said to them. Good for you on thinking it over and putting it all out there on that soapbox--LOVE a good heartfelt soapbox!! I hope she will somehow come to grips with her situation and learn to handle the situation--guaranteed to come up again--better next time. hang in there girl!!
By the way --had a great conversation with your husband about cow-tipping last night--too funny!

Kent said...

Poor Gayle! I tend to take the wounded, silent, crying route when my feelings are hurt!( or I am embarrased by someone jumping down my throat) Truly someone's response like that is more about them and their issues than anything you've said to them. Good for you on thinking it over and putting it all out there on that soapbox--LOVE a good heartfelt soapbox!! I hope she will somehow come to grips with her situation and learn to handle the situation--guaranteed to come up again--better next time. hang in there girl!!
By the way --had a great conversation with your husband about cow-tipping last night--too funny!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

You never know what nerve you might have touched; you never know what her mother-in-law may have just said or an unkind neighbor. Who knows; maybe her own extended family doesn't accept her adopted children as her own. Pray that she is loved and supported and that she has a better day tomorrow.

I SOOOOO understand the being completely misunderstood. The feeling stinks. :(

Just Me'n Mine said...

Well girl, I read it again for the second time today, and after we mulled it over and over on the phone, and after I read all the preceding comments,well.....I think you are very blessed to have a lot of friends who think the world of you. I wonder if she has any, or many?

As one of your MANY friends who can't stand the thought of you being treated unfairly, I just hope that you have experienced some relief just from the expression of it all on your box of soap. :)

Fran said...

Oh gosh..lets just say I learned something today...I had no idea. Sorry you had to pass along because of the experience though.

Distybug said...

Remember that line your mom taught you...If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all...That lady may need a flashcard with that on it to carry around with her at all times!

Hope you feel better now. Glad to be the therapist!

ConservaChick said...

I think this woman needs to use a little grace... might come in handy trying to raise all those kids. ~K

Cindy Swanson said...

Totally agree with you here, Gayle. The woman's reaction was truly uncalled-for...and to be honest, it makes me worry about how she may react to things as the mother of 15 children, a situation in which I'm sure extreme grace and patience is needed.

willblogforshoes said...

I had a similar experience when I saw my first Catholic person on Ash Wednesday... and, boy, was I embarrassed. Like you I didn't say anything that could be misconstrued as insulting. I simply knew nothing about the Catholic faith and practices. But instead of taking the time to explain to me the wonderful symbolism of her ashes, she BLASTED me in front of some coworkers. It was a horrible experience! I apologized and ran to the bathroom and cried. Seriously!

Tammy said...

I have to agree with Cindy up there, we never know what is going on in someone's life that may make them respond in such a manner.

I had a very similar incident with a neighbor. He had NO idea that his response was hurtful to me. His wife contacted me to apologize. It's better now, but I stewed about it for HOURS!

SLMW8MAN said...

Kind of reminds me of the story of Hannah in the Bible of how she was misunderstood. Eli assumed she was drunk and treated her as if she was. She could have attacked back but calmly explained her position.
Sounds like you have produced the fruit of the spirit.
I found your blog today through Growin With It.