A couple weeks ago my husband and I went to the Broadway show Wicked! Which I might add was so amazing I went back again with a friend. Anyway, I sat next to a lady who struck up a conversation with me during the intermission. She introduced me to her daughters who were sitting on the other side of her. They were beautiful. Both, in their mid to late twenties, had long blond hair, pretty features and slim builds. The woman told me about her work in hospice and some of her recent experiences. I was impressed that she was a caring, kind woman. As she told me her stories I noticed her daughters doing something in complete contrast to what I saw in their mother. They were using their phones to film people not dressed as well as them or tripping over people’s feet as they tried to get in and out of the tightly spaced rows. It was like a scene out of “Mean Girls.” It was a little ironic considering the musical we were watching is largely about someone being judged because of her appearance. I felt shame for them. I’m sure they aren't all bad, we all make wrong choices but sometimes our behavior tells a story about us, our character, our hearts. I felt so bad for these girls. Instead of seeing the beauty in the little girl with the pink dress and huge smile, they saw a chunky girl whose hair was disheveled. Instead of seeing the adorable couple in their 70’s (ish) holding hands and flirting like they were on their first date they saw a bald man with dry flakes on his head and a woman who must be too blind to notice. I’m glad their mom was busy talking to me or she may have been quite ashamed and embarrassed.
Another situation happened just a few days later. I went to the high school to watch my daughter play a tennis match. When I got there the score was 4-1 her favor. I sat across the court from the family of my daughter’s opponent. I noticed her father mostly because he was much more vocal than most of the spectators at a tennis match. Something that struck me was that when my daughter would make a mistake he’d cheer, “Good job, Susan!” (Not the opponent’s real name.) I thought it odd just because I cheer for my daughter when she does well, not when her opponent does poorly. We aren’t all alike and while I noticed it, no red flags really went up. Darn! I wish I’d paid a little more attention to that family. My daughter lost the next set bringing the score to 4-2 and then she went down-hill. She didn’t win another set. I kept thinking she was psyching herself out more than usual which was surprising because she’s typically very level headed. I’d not seen this happen before. Man, that red-flag should have been obvious. Hindsight.
When we got to the car tears welled up in her eyes and she asked, “Didn’t you hear them? They were so rude!” The family of her opponent had sat in their lawn chairs making degrading remarks about my girl. Instead of being supportive of their daughter, they were critical of mine. They made comments like, “You’ve got this Susan she has a crappy backhand.” And, “Look at her fumbling all over the court. She doesn’t even know what she’s doing.” And, “Wow, what a loser.”
Now, before I move on I should mention that we talked about what we could have done in the situation and what we will do if it ever happens again. I honestly can’t believe that I had to have a talk with my daughter about ADULT bullying. But these situations have brought up some questions. How often are we caught at our worst without realizing it? What kind of heart does my behavior reflect? What have people heard me say or do? What kind of heart do others think I have? What kind of heart DO I have? Fortunately, not all I've seen lately has been negative.
Let me tell you about another incident that I witnessed. I was job coaching at a local middle school, overseeing a couple of awesome special needs people who are in charge of making sure kids throw away items into the correct recycling bins. Just before approaching the bins a young man juggling his tray while trying to undo his milk bottle, dropped an apple on the floor and it was obvious that if he bent over to get it his tray and all its contents would join the apple. Immediately, another young man, upon seeing the other’s juggling act, jumped up from his table picked up the apple and then grabbed the milk, undid it and dumped it for the boy. Then he ran back to his own table and sat down to finish his meal. The act was simple but telling. This is a boy with a great heart.
I want to be like this boy. I want others to see me in a good light. I want to make others feel good. Not only the person I’m directly effecting, but I want to be a good example to those people I don’t know are watching. I want to show that I have a good heart.
So here’s a question. In your own people watching, what evidence of a good heart have you seen?