Friday, September 9, 2011

To Anyone That was Offended in Any Way by the Recent Facebook Issue

  • So, I had no intent of ever posting an actual blog post about this issue, but to say I have had an enlightening week is quite the understatement.  I am not good with words so I apologize for any grammatical errors or any other mistakes made in this.
    As most people know there is a new “game” to help raise awareness for breast cancer going around on Facebook where people post “I am X weeks and craving (fill in the blank)” it is based off when your birthday is, so my birthday being September 10th would be I am 13 weeks and craving meatballs.  My first contact with said game was when I saw a friends post and immediately thought she was pregnant.  So I “liked” her post and said my congratulations.  Only to find out later that she was actually not pregnant but was doing this for a good cause, I was curious so I asked what it was all about and she sent me a message which explained it.
    Now me, I have had personal experience with cancer, specifically breast cancer.  You see, my grandmother at the tender age of 61 was ripped from my life by this awful disease.  I had to watch a wonderful women, who was a joy, and so full of life go from energetic and happy to so sick she was bed ridden.  I had to watch as her body destroyed itself.  I prayed and prayed, I begged God to let her live so she could be here longer with us.  However, God’s plan and our plans don’t always coincide.  It was seven years ago but I still remember the day she died as if it were yesterday.  I remember getting up in the morning and just knowing, that she was gone.  The call came at 6:30 that morning to tell me what I already knew.  I remember going through all the stages of grief, so many ups and downs and so, so many emotions.  Seven long years I have ached to hug my grandma, to be able to just call her and talk to her about my day or how my kids are doing.  You see, I was close to my grandmother as was all my cousins.  She was very interested in our lives, she was a cosmetologist and owned her own beauty salon in our small town.  I remember her “shop” being as sort of a sanctuary for all of us.  I remember going there after school just to hang out, or she would sometimes pay us to dust her shelves.  I remember all of her fun little corks and the made up words she would call us like “Haguana” and what not.  I loved her so much I miss her every single day.  So, as you can see from my personal experience, I had a passion about this subject as it is very near and dear to my heart.  When I saw this “campaign” to help raise awareness for breast cancer I was all for it.  I had participated in some “Relay for Life” events and I this was something that was simple to do.  I didn’t really want people to actually think I was really pregnant because truth be told, I really want to be, but my husband wants to be done having kids, I mean we are lucky enough to have 4 amazing kids, so I know I should be grateful to have what I do have but I LOVE kids and I really want another one.  So, this is something that my husband and I with the help of our Heavenly Father will have to work out.  Alright, back to my story, I decided to try not to lead people to believe I really was pregnant so first before anything else I emailed all the women on my friends list what this was all about, after that I put up the post on my wall.  Me trying to forewarn them, it didn’t work, people still thought I was really pregnant and I ended up having to correct them.
    In all this, little did I know the turmoil that was brewing about this.  It came to my attention by a friend of mine that this “campaign” was hurting people.  Honestly, at first I was confused, I remember thinking, “what?  How does this hurt anybody?”  She posted a link to a blog.  I read it, it pointed out that this game was really insensitive to those women out there that are having fertility issues.  To be quite honest I was annoyed by it.  Not, that women were going through the pain of fertility issues, but it called this game being played “stupid” and other similar adjectives.  I felt like they were taking something that was supposed to be about breast cancer and making light of it and then shining the light on there own struggles.  I felt like they were accusing people of being insensitive and making light of something that is very sacred (the miracle of creating life) but in the post it felt like they were being insensitive and making light of breast cancer.  So, after this, I felt the need to reprimand my friend, which I did, this went back and forth just a bit before I finally decided that my friendship with her was more important then a difference of opinion.  I am sure she felt the same way because she was usually pretty heartfelt with her replies.
    After this, I came across my sisters blog, who wrote a post about this subject as well.  She shared a similar opinion to mine.  She sympathized with all those going through the pain of infertility, but didn’t understand why people get offended so easily.  There was a girl who read her post, who was also suffering from infertility and she was deeply offended by her blog post.  She then posted her own blog post and started to dissect my sisters post.  We all felt like she was attacking my sisters opinion.  I was fuming mad!!  I mean nobody gets to make my sister feel like that!  I decided to sleep on it before commenting.  I did and in the morning, I was still pretty angry at the whole situation.  So, it was in that angry state of mind that I decided to comment on her post.  To say I ripped her a new one is a big understatement, I let her have it.  Now, what this girl and others would be surprised to know is that I have NEVER ripped anyone a new one before.  I am actually quite terrified of confrontation.  Normally I am the one hiding when a confrontation happens.  I remember once having to tell a women, whom I babysat her kids that I was raising my rates and it was making me physically sick to even think about doing it, my husband had to come to help hold me to keep me from passing out over this.  After I did this to this girl, part of me felt great inside, I had finally done it, I had spoke my mind.  That was short lived before I realized that, yes I had finally stood up to something, well, no matter what I felt this girl did she didn’t deserve 29 years of pent of frustration just waiting to come out.  I responded out of anger and nothing good comes from responding in this frame of mind.  I believe that this may have been what the girl had done with her post, responded out of hurt and anger.
    Now through this girls blog, I actually came across a few other blog posts.  One was talking about this subject and I got it, I finally got it!  She was so respectful about breast cancer and that it is a noble campaign as is infertility.  I was finally seeing it from another persons perspective.  I think the wording and the tone is what made all the difference for me.  You know that old somewhat cliche’ saying “you catch more flies with honey then with vinegar.”  I think that applies to this situation.  This blog was the one I finally needed to read.  Here is the link for anyone interested in reading it,  like my post, it’s quite long but it’s good.
    Through all of this, it felt like people were really arguing over what is more important breast cancer awareness or the pain of infertility.  In reality, neither is more important then the other, both bring pain and despair, they are just simply different.  My current opinion on the subject is that while breast cancer awareness is really important and we need to talk about it, I don’t think this Facebook game was thought through all the way.  It wasn’t so much that the person who came up with it was insensitive to others, I think they just were not informed.  We took something that was supposed to spotlight a noble cause, breast cancer and ended up arguing over whats the bigger struggle.  While I don’t even know if anyone actually scheduled a mammogram or even did a self exam over this, who can really know.  We still need to do it.  So here is my plea; schedule your mammogram or do a self exam, do it today, don’t wait!  It’s that waiting to get the mammogram that killed my grandmother, had she gotten one sooner, it may have saved her life.  So, save the life of those you love, especially yourself, the best thing you could give your family is time with them.  I think there should still be awareness campaigns, they could be fun, we just need to pay attention to what they are about, we should probably be more straight forward.  On the blog I mentioned above she gives some examples, there was was one years ago that was a picture of the breast cancer pin and it said “I touched my boobies?”  Now, while personally I wouldn’t want to use that specific saying, simply because I don’t like the term boobies, it just bugs me.  I think we could all post on our walls, “I touched my breasts!  Have you?”  It’s straight forward and would probably get people at least talking about the subject.  Another idea I heard about was maybe we could get a button for our page that says something to the effect of “I donated my $1 to cancer, what did you do?  I don’t know this is just something I thought of off the top of my head.
    Through all of this there was some articles on that came to my attention that are really good.  The first one was by David A. Bednar in the 2006 General Conference about not getting offended.  This talk is referring to people who don’t come to church anymore because of being offended but I think it applies to this situation as well.  I will now share some quotes from it, that I liked.
    When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.
    In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.
    I agree with this wholeheartedly!  Nobody can MAKE you feel or do anything, you always have a choice, it’s called free agency.  This is something I am trying to teach my children.  Whenever one of them comes to me upset about what another one of them has done and they are saying “they made me cry” I will usually respond “who are we in charge of?” To this they know to respond with “ourselves” they usually do so in a deflated or annoyed tone and then I simply tell them “They can’t MAKE you do anything or feel anything, that was YOUR choice to be upset over this.”  I want to teach my kids that nobody can make them feel bad about themselves or feel inferior, I like what Eleanor Roosevelt once said:  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  I think through all of this people were struggling with this and it’s human nature to need to place blame somewhere and this was the outlet they needed.
    The Savior is the greatest example of how we should respond to potentially offensive events or situations.
    “And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men” (1 Nephi 19:9).
    The savior is our supreme example.  They did ALL that to him and what is his response?  “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  He didn’t say “I hope they suffer, because I am deeply offended!”  If the savior can endure all that he endured and still be forgiving, I think it’s only right that we forgive also.  
    Now, having said this part about choosing to be offended or hurt or any other emotion.  I feel like there is another side to this coin.  I came across another blog and an article that were a perfect example of what we need to do.  
    Here is a quote from one of the blogs:
    As we move along…I want you to think about some of the big signs with big messages that I bet you wish you could wear around your neck sometimes so that people would be more gentle….or even that you could put around the neck of someone you love….so that you didn’t have to go into a big long story to defend yourself or someone else….so that people would just stop judging and and just be kind.
    I bet we each have several signs in mind that we would want to have on.  For me a couple of them would say, “Please, be gentle and don’t yell at my daughter, we believe she has Asperger’s and doesn’t know any better.” Or “Please don’t judge me on the state of what my house looks like.  I have ADD and can’t focus long enough to get it done, I am trying to get help so please be patient with me.”  Think about what all the signs around each of our necks would be.  Now, think about how we would treat people if we saw what it was that they were struggling with and what is sensitive for them.  We would treat each other so differently if we were even just aware.  Now we won’t be going around wearing signs around our necks stating our very personal trials, we simply don’t know what other people are going through and that is exactly why we need to be sensitive to those that are around us.  This brings me to the other article I came across on, this was an article in the Ensign in June of 2008, it was written by a women named Andrea Worthington Snarr and it is titled “Cultivating Sensitivity to Others.  I will share some quotes from it:
    One sunny day I walked to my mailbox to retrieve the mail. Among the bills, I saw an envelope with my name typed on it. Excited to receive a letter, I quickly opened it. Then my hopes were shattered as I realized that someone had sent me an anonymous letter containing parenting tips. Photocopied articles explained how to say no to children and outlined the social ills resulting from parents’ failures.
    Obviously, the sender had noticed our son’s difficulties. What the sender apparently did not know, however, is that our son has a neurological condition related to autism. Our efforts to help this son had been extremely time-consuming and expensive—including therapy, doctors, medications, parenting classes, alternative schooling, research, conferences, and consistent routines. If only the sender had known how hard we were trying. 
    Now, for me this hit close to home.  While I have never had this experience I can imagine the hurt and tears that would surely come if it did happen.  We all need to remember to have tact and be sensitive because you don’t know what could be going on or what anyone’s personal struggles are.  
    Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton can guide us in our efforts to become more sensitive: “See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually” (Alma 41:14).
    I love how the scriptures are always so straight forward.  I also love the term “judge righteously” as humans it’s our nature to judge things.  That is simply what you do, you judge things and people in one way or another when you first meet.  If we simply lived by the term “judge righteously” then the world would be a kinder place.
    Unfortunately, we are often unintentionally insensitive simply because we are unaware of what others are experiencing. Often when we make assumptions about another person, we are mistaken. This is because we rarely understand the complexities of another’s life.
    This is basically what has happened with the whole thing on Facebook.  This was something that was unintentionally insensitive.  I participated simply because the thought never crossed my mind that it would hurt people because I was unaware of these struggles and have never gone through it myself it makes me that much more unaware.  I think the whole issue with my sisters blog that happened was because a lot of assumptions were made.  There was a lot of assumptions about my sister and her point of view that were wrong.  Just as there were a lot of assumptions about this girl that were made and I am sure we were wrong.
    Kindness and understanding should be at the heart of our relationships with others. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
    “Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes. …
    “Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.” 
    Now we are back to being Christlike.  If we truly, I mean really strive for this, then these misunderstandings, harsh judgments, and insensitivity would not happen. 
    Fortunately, our status—marital, financial, or social—does not define us as individuals. Nor should it determine the way we treat others. As Brother Terrance D. Olson noted: “Respect is an expression of our sense of universal brotherhood or sisterhood—a testimony of our membership in the human family. It acknowledges our common humanity and shows our reverence for children of God.” 
    I agree with this.  Our pain and struggles do not define us it is not who we are.  We can’t let that happen.  I recently had the opportunity to attend a Relief Society night to listen to this man Matt Townsend speak to us.  What he said truly made sense.  He talked about what is called our ego and our essence.  Our essence is who we are in our core, perfect beings, sons and daughters of God, it’s how our Father in Heaven looks at us.  Us as humans is our ego.  We need to watch what we are feeling because whenever we feel useless, jealous, down, alone, hurt, offended, etc that is our ego talking.  He used the scripture mastery scripture Mosiah 3:19 “For, the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”  The “natural man” is our ego.  Your ego is trained to compete with yourself.  He said, We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not humans having a spiritual experience.  When you are in your essence is when you feel peaceful and full of joy.  Picture yourself, standing before the savior with your family, he puts his hands out and says “come to me” he puts his arms around you and hugs you and just holds you there for a while.  Then he puts his hands on your head and blesses you, he calls you by name, he knows YOU the real you, the core you.  Now that is your essence, that wonderful feeling you get of absolute peace and harmony when talking about situations like this.  His talk truly put things in a better perspective for me.  We need to look at ourselves the way HE looks at us.  We need to look at those around us the way HE looks at them.  We are ALL his children, and only HE truly knows our hearts.  Now, all of us having this “human experience” we don’t know what is going on inside the hearts of others, the best we can do is offer sensitivity, tactfulness, patience, and love to others.
    In the end, to all of you suffering with infertility that were reminded of that pain through this Facebook thing, I am truly sorry for your hurt and your pain you are going through.  To all those who have lost a loved one to cancer, any kind of cancer I am deeply sorry for your pain and sorrow.  To all those who struggle with a child with Autism, ADD, Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression, etc.  I am so sorry you are enduring this, I am sorry for the pain you feel for your precious children.  To those who are suffering financially and fear how they will put the next meal on their table, I am so sorry you are facing this.  To all those whose pain and sorrow has not been mentioned I am sorry for what you are going through.
    May we all stand up with our head held high, that we can face the things around us with courage and faith.  That we won’t give consent to other people to offend us, because we know they actually can’t!  May we all be more sensitive to those who are struggling around us.  We all are struggling, every single person we come across is struggling with something, just because we are unaware of what it may be doesn’t mean they aren’t having deep pain inside them.  May we treat each other with the kindness and respect that we feel we personally deserve!


Karri Warren said...

I couldn't have said this better myself. This was beautiful Jessi. Thank you for reminding us all what is truly important.

Jared and Heather said...

I LOVE this post. It is truly how all of us should think and act. If we all were like this, the world would be an amazing place! Love ya, Jess!

Amy said...

Wow Jessi. I Guess you had alot on your mind. This was a great post but I feel like I just read your diary. Love ya!