Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: March 16, 2020

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about how other people judged me. How I acted. What I said. Was I too angry? Too mean? What I wore, was it appropriate, did it fit right? Am I too fat? Did I say too much? Or, did I say too little? This person must think I’m too intense. And that person must think I’m not very fun at all. Does he like me? Does she really deep down despise me? Are they looking at me? If so, why?

And the thoughts were worse at certain times, especially when I was feeling depressed or anxious, or when I was presenting in a parish meeting, or sometimes when being out at a social event. It was so distracting and difficult to stay in the present moment, because I had a whole inner monologue going on in my head about how much I thought someone else though of me. I assumed every facial expression and every comment from others meant something. And there were always specific themes and beliefs. Universal truths about myself that other people surely thought. I’d hone them and shine them like a pretty little marble and then keep them in my pocket. It was exhausting. I work on myself every month in therapy. I try to harness all of the ‘little devils’ that speak to me, but I still do this today; almost every day to a certain extent.

Certain beliefs about ourselves are hard to break, I know that. We are all broken to some extent, but at least I am now able to recognize the pattern and reframe my inner dialogue. And, now I understand the truth about most people. The truth that has been shown in research over the years, but lately all the more during this health crisis: Nobody is thinking that much about me. Because we mostly think about ourselves.

We aren’t as nice as we thought we were, huh? I mean, look at the fights in parking lots, and the empty shelves at grocery stores now devoid of sanitary wipes, hand sanitizer and even toilet paper. Many large chains are out of food and fresh produce. It seems that the few purchased more than they need our of their own fear, and that left the many with nothing. But, isn’t that the way it is?

Look at the man who reportedly took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from ‘little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods, as one newspaper reported. Then, he was left with it all after Amazon and eBay prohibited the sale of such items to combat price gouging. He claims he was in the right to make a profit. But, really? Now?

St. Francis was clear when he said, “For it is in giving that we receive.”  There ain’t much giving going on right now. Fred Rogers also once gave us a moving futurist look at the good that could come during times like these when he said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

 I am looking. How about you? Or, perhaps you are actually one of the few.

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