If you’ve ever heard a parent or loved one say to you, “Get over it!” you know the emptiness that phrase dumps on you.
It’s a common phrase in our individualistic Western culture, however. We think we are tough, should be tough, want to be tough, but what we are really looking for is strength, which is radically different.
Strength to do the next thing. Strength to persevere when it is hard. Strength to not give up hope. Strength to stay in relationships that are difficult – and do so with dignity.
What if that strength was born out of understanding, validation, and compassion for ourselves in weak moments? What if when we give it to others in their weak moments we build them up more than at any other time?
I was probably eight years old, and my friend’s mom dropped me at home after swimming lessons. My mom wasn’t there, but the neighbor was. She sat at our patio table and had a plate of zucchini bread, Crazy-hungry, I proceeded to eat piece after piece until just two slices remained.
Finally, my mom came home. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that much, I knew at the time I was being selfish, but I was hungry. And eight years old. So I did what I wanted to do in the moment. I don’t remember what my mom said, but I remember the realization of how selfish I had been washed over me like a greasy oil spill covering and darkening a beach.
I felt ugly inside.
I went to bed.
Hours later, my dad came in from work. He came and found me, and I cried and cried, saddened by my selfishness. I had managed to work myself into a frenzy of negative thoughts, despising my behavior and myself.
And then it happened.
He simply sat on my bed, rubbed my back while I cried and spewed remorse between sobs and then he gave me the most wonderful gift. He just said, “Hey, it’s okay. I don’t like her zucchini bread that much anyway, and it’s just food. I love you. Don’t worry about it. It’s okay.”
I remember being shocked. I sat up and threw my arms around his neck and sobbed more – this time from relief and joy, and I don’t even know, the feeling you get when someone else’s compassion washes over you undeservedly.
I never felt so loved.
His compassion drowned the feelings of self-condemnation. His forgiveness filled my heart with joy. I literally thought I would burst, as though every cell in my body was more than happy. I can’t describe it well. There just aren’t words.
In the big scheme of things, this should be a small moment. Of course a parent should have grace for their child’s mistakes. For me, however, the moment marked my first experience of unconditional love, a feeling washing over me but one other time – when I “got” what Christ did for me on the cross.
God never tells us to “get over it.” Not surprising, research by Dr. Katherine Neff shows that the more compassionate we are with ourselves and our mistakes, the more we can extend that to others. Of course God included in the greatest commandments to love God with all our hearts, souls, mind and strength, and to love others as we love ourselves.
That last bit is somewhat prophetic. We DO love others – as much or as little – as we love ourselves.
Want to do that more?
If you are a mom, maybe you’ve had those moments with your babies where they are crying, or angry, and you pick them up and hold them, even when their arms are flailing, little fists and feet pummeling your body. Back arched, their screams shrill, we walk into comforting in another’s ugliest of weakness without a second thought. What we fail to realize is that those little people are still within us and others, along with the misunderstanding, lack of knowledge or emotional capacity that simply needs comfort and compassion.
Check Romans 5:8 (ESV)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And on the cross, He said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”
“Get over it.”
That phrase is judgment. Criticism of the weakness and wounding of another person. Mockery of their pain. Self-righteousness, piety, and judgment.
Ouch. Yeah, me too.
Dare you today to be a respectful person. Dare you to STOP saying, “Get over it,” and START being compassionate – that looks like listening and trying to understand.
Double-dog-dare you to be respectful towards yourself, too!
Love to you,
Oh – I know this is a crazy time of year, but if you really want to learn how to do this well for the people in your life, model it for your kids, and deepen your relationship with God, then if you feel led, give them and you the gift of Deflating Defensiveness. It’s literally the best thing we do – and the results last.
You can find out more here.