On my way to Potentia earlier this week, I listened to an interview on NPR with Dr. T Berry Brazelton. He is known as the “baby whisperer” and has been a go-to resource for parents for six decades. You can catch the whole interview here.
Towards the end of the interview, Dr. Brazelton shared about an encounter with a women in a grocery store.
It took my breathe away.
Dr. Brazelton saw a women struggling with her 2 year old while grocery shopping. The mother then began hitting her screaming child. In seeing this, Dr. Brazelton walked up to the mother and said, “It is so hard… to take a two year old to the grocery store.”
After those words, the mother immediately started to cry. She held her toddler and they began to reconnect and repair. The child even started to wipe the tears off of his mother’s face.
“It is so hard…”
This story gripped me in so many ways.
Spoken words in time of vulnerability, fatigue and overwhelm were medicine for this mom.Instead of judgement, she received compassion. Instead of chastising, she received kindness.
And healing began immediately between mother and child.
I was so touched and convicted listening to the recollection of this story – as I have been judged and can also be the judger.
I have felt the judgements, seen the eye rolls and heard the whispers of critique about me or my children.
I have also stepped on my high-horse of “I am right. You are wrong.” when all someone needed was a hug and to be heard.
At Potentia, I regularly hear about experiences of condemnation, self-loathing, rejection, isolation, abandonment and the aftershocks these experiences have left on their hearts – rocking their souls.
It takes immense courage to speak of such pain. It is so hard…
- being a parent
- recovering from food and body issues
- sitting in the aftermath of a failed marriage or relationship
- feeling lonely and disconnected
- trying to heal from depression, anxiety
- being the person you are called to be
- taking a stand
- feeling like no one understands
- asking for help
- giving the undeserved gift of grace
- receiving the undeserved gift of grace
- believing you not an exception to God’s grace, love and sacrifice
- not letting shame corrode your sense of worth and purpose
- healing from sexual, emotional, physical abuse
- forgiving yourself for being relentless in beating yourself up.
It is so hard to be human.
When times are tough, self care is down and the worst parts of ourselves come to the surface – we can feel unlovable, make bad choices, do harm to self or others.
And in those moments, we can choose to add to someone’s pain or help relieve it.
When we find ourselves in the dark zone of the messiness of life and are offered the hand of grace through kind words or gestures, we can choose to receive it instead of shutting down.
I think what made Dr. Brazelton’s words so powerful and able to penetrate this woman’s heart was his sincerity and the tone of his voice. He was disarming and genuine. Not condescending or patronizing.
But by the grace of God can I strive to live a life that facilitates healing and forgive myself promptly when my quick tongue rises up to judge someone or myself.
These words: grace, compassion, kindness – are words we are all drawn too. But to really live these words and put them into action takes guts. And tenacity. And the willingness to mess up and not be perfect.
I see this courage and determination in my office everyday. I see it in my kids and in my husband.
Just imagine someone approaching you with respect and kindness during a time of exposed “raw and real”.
And what if we stopped the eye-rolling, the judgemental thoughts, the whispers under our breathe but still loud enough to be heard?
And think of what our little worlds of influence would be like if we REALLY lived grace instead of judging and the distancing “tsk tsks”.
We judge in the areas we are most vulnerable. Fear drives these kinds of judgements. Getting clear on your vulnerabilities can help you be a vessel for healing in your own life and in the lives of those around you.
Giving compassion to self and others+receiving the undeserved gift of grace is like a cool glass of water on a hot day.
We are all in the desert doing the best we can.
It is so hard. Trust me. I know.
I may not know your specific experience but I know what it is like to be out there, exposed, afraid and broken.
And I am where I am at today because I have received from others, myself and God the permission to be a hot mess and find redemption in my mistakes.
Self-loathing is culture’s homeostasis and it is simply not sustaining.
It takes living from a place of love, confidence, selflessness and respect to be the person to give compassion as Dr. Brazelton did.
And love bombs like the one Dr. Brazelton dropped on the mother in the grocery story can create sustaining change in our world.
I have received love bombs this week from my friend Madison who came to help out my family while my husband was on a work trip. And words of affirmation came my wayvia emails from Nancy and Lauren and a voice mail message from Marc – all of which brought tears to my eyes.
I was struck at how their kind word and gestures were difficult to receive. But I sat with their love bombs – and they quenched my thirst to be seen and understood.
So my challenge to you this week is this: drop some love bombs in your world of influence. At least three.
Your love bomb may be an email to someone, a phone call, a text. You may go old school and write a letter. Whatever you do, keep these words in mind: It is so hard… And remember – Less is more. Tone is key. Let empathy – not distancing sympathy – guide you. And let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
I would also love to know about any love bombs that have been dropped on you lately. Were they hard to receive? How did you receive them?
Cheering you on –
PS. Potentia’s cornerstone workshop – Cultivating Courage – is an incredible place to get clear on your vulnerabilities, work on rewiring judgements and building resilience to shame. We believe this work is a game-changer in how we do all aspects of life. I would love to see you at one of our future workshops. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or post them below.