You must ask for God’s help. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. -CS Lewis
In the past few weeks, I’ve hosted 2 hay rides welcoming 150 people to the farm, gone to a huge IEP meeting for Rylie with the public and private schools she attends, dedicated Gus and Abby at church, gone to a teacher/parent conference for Ry, gone to a dentist appointment for me to figure out some serious TMJ issues, organized 1400 pounds of ground beef for friends, gone to a 50th anniversary work-related dinner, and taken Gideon in for ear-tube replacement surgery.
I am, in a word, tired.
Somewhere in all of that was 30 minutes of just me and Curt driving… and I saw a store. I wanted to stop… for just a minute, alone… and grab a thank you present for the saint of a friend who had stayed with the kids overnight. I left Curt in the car, happily browsing on his phone without a child begging for truck or horse videos, and I went inside. Alone.
I haven’t been alone in a very long time.
I was prepared for a warm welcome. It was, after all, a slow Sunday morning. I was the only one shopping. I know it’s part of the job to welcome and inquire and set the tone for the shopping experience, so I expected meet a new best friend. Yes, hello. I’m fine, thank you. Nope, just looking for something small… not sure what yet. Great, thank you so much. I’ll be sure to yell if I have any questions. You bet. I know! Those are super cute! Thanks! I’ll look at the sales. Mmmhmm. I bet your mom loved that; what a great idea. Ok. Yep. You bet. Thank you.
You would have been so proud of me.
Making conversation. Smiling like I do this all the time. Like it’s easy.
She was kind and cute and well-dressed, thanks to the employee discount. She returned to her position behind the counter and next to her manager. Their combined age was maybe 40. Maybe. The manager picked up her Me So Crazy story where she had left off before I arrived, and we all went about our business.
For about 30 seconds.
As I browsed the tables in front of the cashier desk (danger: direct line of vision), the manager decided to work her magic.
Now, Friends, I’m about to go to a place where you will be disappointed in me… and, I just want to set that up in advance. This is not a pretty story. But, I had 10 minutes- TEN MINUTES- of free time to look at pretty clothes and pretend my most important decision in life was the color of a pair of socks. Ten minutes. I had already fielded a significant conversation with the greeter. The manager had heard the entire, echo-y conversation… just as I had heard her Saturday Night Crazy Town story. We were not strangers.
She looked up at me and grinned. Her shirt was red, her skirt was pink, her tights were fuchsia. I was still processing the red and pink combination when she leaned my direction and opened her gum-smacking mouth.
(I can do this.) Yes.
This table has tons of cute stuff… I just LOOOOVE those bags.
(eye contact, a quick nod, and a step away)
(I maybe can still do this. Just smile. Smile, Kate.)
(I’m not sure I’m going to make it.) Yep.
(audible, flustered sigh)
(I’m not going to make it.) I don’t think you know her.
And that’s when all the air left the room. She flipped her perfect hair and looked at me through squinted eyes, “O-KAY THEN!” and clicked her way to the back of the store to fold something.
Or be away from me.
I can’t go out in public a whole lot, Folks. My filters are faulty. I paid for the socks and made polite conversation with “my girl” as a penance before leaving. I started to cry on my way back to the car and had to collect myself. When I got in, I told Curt to take me back to the farm. I was grounded for a good, long while.
It was exactly what I wanted to say, and there’s a huge part of me that took great satisfaction in having the right words for how I was feeling in that exact moment. That part of me was quickly grieved by the realization that I had intentionally hurt another person. A really annoying, oblivious person… but I had hurt her.
It was not my finest moment.
I haven’t been able to shake it. So I’m confessing to you:
That I am decent with words, but I struggle with people. That I sometimes miss the line between funny and mean. That I have a breaking point. That I make terrible, terrible first-impressions. That I’ve cheated on tests before and blamed lots of childhood mischief on my brother.
I am, simply, not perfect.
I assume that’s obvious. Then I realize I read other women, I look at other families… and I feel the grit of comparison, the thoughts that I am not enough, the lie that someone else has got it all together all the time. And, if I think it, maybe you do, too.
Let me say this to you… you who feel that you pale in comparison to me or anyone else: YOU are beautiful, and you are doing just fine. You do not want my life. And I, I do not want yours. Well, not all of it.
But I am blessed, honored, giddy to walk alongside you, if you’ll have me.
I promise to keep my mouth shut.
Most of the time.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.