When Strangers Lose Their Filter
I was standing in line for our favorite pulled pork meal, and I overheard him. The boys were across the way, picking out a window seat, helping daddy fill up drinks and snacking on pickles. He had spotted my them and was putting together the fact that there were four of them sharing one birthday. And then he said it. One of my most hated phrases to be described of the life you lead.
“I’d shoot myself.”
I’m right in front of him. And I sigh, and wait for him to go on, and say something else worthy of his foot being swallowed. But I don’t say anything. I look down at the floor and I breathe a sigh of relief that my boys didn’t hear him speak about them in such a way.
I know his intentions weren’t evil, and for the most part he is just shocked, but it still stings. I’ve heard it before, and I’m sure to hear it again, but my skin isn’t tough enough yet. The wound isn’t scabbed over, because it keeps getting broke open by remarks like this one.
I sometimes wonder what would happen if the roles were reversed. What if I said the same of the people they are with.
“Is that your wife? Are those YOUR kids?
No, that would be incredibly rude, uncalled for, disrespectful, judgmental, offensive, and careless. And after all, I don’t know you or them from Adam. I have no idea if they are difficult to live with, or how your world looks.
Yet for some reason, the standard changes when it comes to my family. The filter dissipates. They forget that I have ears.
They forget that THEY have ears.
And this is why I have to be ever more vigilant to preach to my boys that they are a BLESSING, not a curse. My life is better, not ruined because of them. Their lives are precious, not a mistake.
I simply can’t imagine a life without them.
He chatted with me later, as I refilled my tea. He asked me the typical questions, and said what a handful they must be with a friendly smile. I took the opportunity to tell him that they are a blessing, and share my thankfulness for their lives. We parted ways, but his words didn’t leave me.
It’s a reminder to me that our words are powerful. They can’t be undone. They are heard. They are taken to heart. They linger. They have weight.
Let’s be careful with them, Friends. Let’s not be the stranger that forgets their filter.