When I was about 10 or 11 years old, long time ago, I watched a television movie while I was at my grandmother's house for the weekend. A Girl Named Sooner. I don't remember much about the movie, except that it was about a young girl who had been abandoned by her family, who endured one heart-breaking hardship after another, who had no sense of her own value.
At some point in the sad story of her life, she was befriended by a school teacher. Sooner - the little girl - made a pet out of a pigeon that lived near the school, feeding it from her meager lunch each day. During one especially tragic scene, a group of kids gathered around the bird and started throwing pebbles at it, eventually killing the bird. Sooner, motivated by a desire to fit in with the other kids, joined in the game of tossing pebbles at the pigeon, thereby playing a part in killing her own pet. When the school teacher learned of the incident and confronted Sooner, the little girl replied, "It wasn't nothing. It was just a pigeon. Nothin' special."
"But it was yours," the teacher wept. "That pigeon was special...it was special because it was yours, because you loved it..."
Just a pigeon.
Except that it was important to one little girl.
That scene from A Girl Named Sooner has haunted my memory on and off for over 30 years. I've wished I could internalize the lesson Sooner's teacher labored to teach her.
In my mind, the scene plays out something like this....
Inside, I am a "neat-y" - I am happier and more productive when my space is organized and clean. As the mother of many children, I have heard countless times over the years something to the effect of "The mess really doesn't matter. Just let it go!" And in the less-than-tidy business of raising seven children, I've tried to believe that. Except that, to me, the mess does matter, at least the mess in my own house. I have to wonder, if it matters only to me...does that mean it doesn't really matter at all? Like, my preferences and desires are somehow inconsequential?
Or, someone does or says something that hurts me badly, even breaks my heart. When confronted, that person simply replies, "It's no big deal. You just need to get over it." No big deal, really...except to me. If it doesn't matter to the person who hurt me, that means it doesn't matter at all? How is it their perspective trumps my heart?
Or, something I hold very dear. Beautiful, precious, a beloved treasure. Then along comes someone who makes an off-handed comment, without even thinking. "That is so stupid! So ugly! So dumb!" Oh, really? You think so?
Well, I've got news: they're wrong.
I just wish I'd figured that out sooner.
3 months ago