We were taking a long walk through the park, chatting like sisters do, about high school popularity – and the problem of the lack thereof. Except this particular pair of sisters is separated by about seventeen years in age.
It started with an innocuous question. My sister-in-law, who is in her first year of high school, asked me if I had noticed that the popular kids seem to offer the less popular ones opportunities to become more popular – but that usually one has to jump over some ridiculous hurdle to prove one’s worth. And that it can be the kids you’d think were least concerned with popularity who do so, while someone you thought might be the first to line up, who ends up surprising you.
And somehow, over the course of the conversation, I told a story about a friend I had, Helen. She was a very sweet and smart girl and I enjoyed her friendship…but she was definitely on the lower end of the popularity spectrum. One day, in an attempt to be helpful, I suggested we could have a little fun with hair and makeup and such. I had hoped to help her fit in a little better, in a way that was flattering for her face and figure. But that conversation didn’t go so well, and soon after, I lost her as a friend. In retrospect, I realized that she – better than me – had understood that I, in my teenage immaturity, had not valued her very well as her own person. And I felt endlessly guilty about that and sad that I had done so.
And my young sister-in-law told me it was a mark of how wholesome I was as a person that I felt badly about it; many others would do far worse, with malicious intent, and not feel a shred of guilt. And she said, wisely, that more may have happened to Helen where others had tricked, deceived, or bullied her, and perhaps part of the reason for her reaction had more to do with how others had treated her in the past than with what I was suggesting in the moment.
And in that conversation, I felt a burden of guilt ease off my shoulders: the release of a weight I hadn’t realized I carried. I don’t share this to curry more assurances, but to mention how startled I was to find what little packages of self-chastisement I carry, and for how many years I can carry it. There are things that stick with us, hidden in the nooks and crannies of our character. And sometimes all it takes is understanding, even from an unlikely source, to shed light on these things and set them free.
Do you have a packet of guilt you’ve been carrying with you for too long?
* * *
but by the moments that take our breath away.”
- Author Unknown
What moments stole your breath away this week?
Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us!
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