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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Walking a mile in someone else's shoes...

Today has been an interesting day for me. I've had two very profound experiences that have hammered home the often repeated phrase about how we need to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before we judge another person or before we can truly say we understand them.

This is really one of my core beliefs. I really do try to understand other people and their motives. I am often quick to judge, but the rational part of my brain eventually gets back in control and I realize that I might not know the whole story. That's usually what gets me past being upset or angry with someone.

This morning I went out to lunch with a co-worker, Shannon. We call her Sex Ed Shannon because she's over the health curriculum in my District. She's been working lately on a revision of our Sex Ed curriculum, and there have been quite a few misunderstandings, rumors, rumors of rumors, and a general uproar from some parents. (Here's a hint...they're LDS!) Anyhow, we went out to lunch today to commiserate, and we ended up talking about some deep stuff. Shannon was raised Catholic, and while she's politically more conservative, socially she's more liberal. We started talking about the LDS Church and homosexuality. It ended up with me coming out to her. (And no, she wasn't surprised...duh, I'm sure everyone knows!) Anyhow, we talked about the feelings others have and how we can't really judge others because we don't know what's going on or what went on in their life. We talked about how people are so quick to judge and assume that they know why a person is a certain way. I told her about my experiences as a Gay Mormon as well as some friends of mine. She teared up a little, she has such a tender caring heart. If you meet her, you'd be surprised because Shannon, well, she's a little rough. She's from New Jersey, and when you meet her, you know that's where she's from. The neat thing about her is that underneath all of the Jersey-ness is this loving, caring person who doesn't want anyone to feel excluded or hurt. Her Jersey side is fun too, because she can be real dirty. We always share nasty bitchy things we find on the Internet with each other. lol

So, later this evening I was doing my Moho Blog reading and I ran across a posting that took me back to the whole walking a mile in someone else's shoes thing. It was a posting by a guy (who will remain nameless) that I noticed at the Affirmation conference. First of all...May I say gorgeous? Well, let's say he's SUPER gorgeous. But the second thing was that he just seemed to ooze confidence, and everyone seemed to know him or wanted to know him. He was like some Affirmation Celebrity! I never met or talked with him, but I stood in line behind him for dinner one night.

Guys like him intimidate me. REALLY intimidate me. I can't talk to them or look them in the eyes because I immediately turn into a shy junior high school girl looking down at her feet and nervously playing with her hair. I just watch from a distance and imagine how perfect his life must be. So in reading his post, it took me aback at how differently he portrays himself in his posts. I really enjoyed his most recent post, and so I read some of his other recent posts. One in particular was just so raw and open. He shared so much from his past, much of it painful. Things that were hard to read. There were several times when I had to stop reading because it was painful. I finished reading and just sat there for a while, not in shock exactly, but with a mixture of awe, sadness, and I don't know what else...understanding? No...enlightenment. His post enlightened me.

Apparently this image that I saw last month in SLC of a confident, tall, dark, and handsome gay LDS guy who is dating and is part of the Affirmation leadership who doesn't have a care in the world other than where he and his equally handsome boyfriend will go next on some super romantic date, probably isn't entirely accurate. Do not get me wrong, I'm not implying that he is fake or anything like that. It's just that his post made me realize that I'm not the only person out there who feels inadequate, unworthy, or unloved sometimes. I always look at people like him and think that if I were just as pretty, my life would be set. I would have no worries or troubles. Everything is easy for the beautiful people! I had completely misjudged him. Suddenly I saw guy who hurts too. He is struggling to find balance between his faith and his life. He is trying to make sense of the world and the cards he's been dealt. And I thought the only cards was holding was a nice face and a great athletic body. (No, I'm not obsessed...I'm just being descriptive here. I'm obsessed with Spencer Day. That's for another post though.)

I can't count how often I do stuff like this. I see someone who has traits that I wish I had and I assume they have this amazing problem free life, and poor chubby me has to make do with this mediocre life. I keep telling myself that if I just had those things life would be so much better. What I learned from reading his blog is that I need to stop doing that to myself. I need to realize that we are all broken in some way, shape, or form. It does me no good to compare myself to this image that I dream up of other people, when I really don't know them. I never met this guy, I'm not his friend, I don't know him. I looked at his face, his boyfriend, his personality and I judged him. I didn't judge him in a mean way, but I judged him still the same. My judging didn't harm him, hell, he doesn't even know I judged him. Tonight I learned that when I compare my life to the life of someone who I have judged to have a perfect life, it harms me. Instead of putting him down, I have put myself down. Why can't I have his perfect life that I imagined he must have simply because he's attractive? (Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds.) I can't keep doing this if I want to be happy. I need to learn how to make lemonade with lemons. (Anyone willing to loan me some sugar...)

I am in awe that he was so willing to open himself up and be honest...with strangers, no less, because he taught me a very valuable lesson. I am grateful that he allowed me to virtually walk a mile in his shoes. It helped me see something that I do to myself that isn't healthy. By sharing his pain and his struggles, he has helped me see something about myself, and I have realized how often I hold up these false images I have of other people and personally chastise myself for not being able to have the same perfect lives that I've imagined that they live. I always thought that the whole walking a mile in someone else's shoes idiom was there to teach us that we shouldn't judge other people unrighteously. What I learned today is that I really shouldn't make ANY judgments about other peoples' lives. And I shouldn't use those judgments to criticize my own life.

I don't know if he reads other Moho Blogs, or if he reads what I write, but I wanted to send a shoutout to him and say: "Your post was super, man."

Ok, my sleeping pill is kicking in...I'm off to bed. On another note, if you pray, say a prayer for me. I'm giving a big presentation at work tomorrow and I need all the help I can get. My boss' boss has already told someone that she think I'm going to mess it up. (Thanks for the confidence hunty!)