I picked this statement for two reasons–the first one being obvious: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
I cannot tell you how quickly I am to throw stones at other people. Not out loud–I’ve learned my lesson with that one quite well, thank you. No, I have mental stones that I throw. I am very quick to assume things about other people that I have no earthly idea if they are true or not.
Case in point. Many, many years ago, my friend D and I worked at a very small company and our boss hired a new “girl.” And by very small company, I mean, it was me, D, some guy in the back who never came out, a delivery guy, and the owner–that small. One day the owner hired this “girl.” She was, uhm….very…blonde. Very cute. Very perky. Roughly the same age as me and D but very…blonde. D and I had worked together for quite a while and being that we were the only two women who worked there and often the only two people there (the owner was usually making sales calls and the delivery guy was, well, delivering. And the guy in the back was in the back.
So now, D and I are left with this very perky, cute, blonde. And we did what two women always do when a new woman comes sniffing around. We hated her.
We made faces behind her back. We mocked the lilt of her laughter, the swing in her walk, the way she smiled before she answered the phone. In short…we were…mean. And for the record, we were also college graduates who should have known better. I’d been working for quite few years. But women are a b1tchy lot and I’m sad to say, we weren’t much different from my 9 year old daughter.
One day when the boss was out and it was just the three of us, D and I begrudgingly invited Perky to lunch with us. We were mean, but we weren’t mean to her face. Besides, it might give us more to mock. Perky said she’d love to join us but she had to run home and check on her dog. D and I looked at each other and sort of smirked. Now we are both animal lovers, I had dogs and D had grown up with horses and dogs, but I just knew what D was thinking. I knew what I was thinking.
“Aha!” I thought to myself. “She’s one of THOSE people. One of those people with small, fru-fruy, white lap dogs that can’t do anything without being carried about in their owners handbag. Of course SHE’D have one of THOSE silly dogs.”
“So,” I asked, ready to confirm my suspicions, “What kind of dog do you have?”
“Oh, I have two rescue greyhounds. One has seizures so I have to go home and give him his medication.”
Wow did I hate myself at that moment. They weren’t fru-fru dogs. She wasn’t one of THOSE people. She was rescuing dogs. And caring for a sick one. And so what if she DID have a small, white, useless lap dog? What business is it of mine?
But I sure was quick to throw stones based on how Perky looked. The dog thing shattered my and D’s negativity about Perky and she turned out to be really great person. Probably a much better person than I was for thinking those things about her. We ended up being good friends for quite a long time until we all left the company.
The other day, someone revealed something to me about herself that I NEVER would have suspected. She seemed so poised, so calm and put together that I never would have assumed that she had the things going on in her life that she did. I mentally “threw a stone” that she was so much better than me because of how she looked.
Working with the family from Inter-Faith Housing Alliance has also given me new perspective. These families have kids my age. They are women and men my age. A lot of them had jobs. Some of them have jobs (which is more than can be said for me, right now). They had some bad breaks, had some tough decisions and I won’t presume that I won’t ever end up like “them” because I’m smarter, stronger, faster, whatever. In today’s economy, things can change on a dime. My work may not pick up so quickly in September and we might not be so flush come October.
The point of not throwing stones is that it doesn’t matter where we all came from, or even where we are all going. Right now, there are people around me who are part of my walk. To make judgements based on what they wear, do, say, smell like, drive, or live isn’t for me to make.
The second part of living in a glass house has to do with making my life more transparent. Sometimes I try to appear as if I have it all together (okay, I really do have it all together. No, I don’t–not even close). I try to appear as if I know what I’m doing and how I’m going to do it and that I don’t need help from anyone. But living in a glass house means putting myself out there. It means being vulnerable to others and not hiding my weaknesses. I think that we are most strong when we are able to show another our weaknesses. Often, when we are vulnerable, it allows others to open up as well. We are then able to lift each other up and become stronger than we were before we revealed ourselves.
Of course, living in a glass house also means I’ll have to dust and vacuum a lot more.
Or pick friends who like dust bunnies.