Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Make It Stop~ November 4, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:04 am
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I am sick to death of bullying!! I considered adding a few colorful words to embellish on that opening line to grasp your attention, making sure my point was clear because I am absolutely disgusted!

I know some of you may read into this and question who ruffled my feathers this morning. Allow me to clarify that while there have been some instances where the bullying has hit my own home, this goes far beyond the reaches of my little corner of the world.

It seems no one is off limits from the grasp of a bully. The workplace, the classroom, the ball fields, the canned goods aisle at the grocery store…all prime locations for the bully to strike. Under no circumstances is it ever ok to assert your dominance over another’s perceived weakness! Not ever. All bullying is wrong but for me personally, the worst is when someone in authority abuses their power, especially in the case of adult/child relationships. Can we just stop it already?! I would rather EARN someone’s respect than scare them into submission.

This is about more than just one specific offense. It’s the day after day reports of kids taking their lives over bully assaults. It’s the social media posts attacking everyone who doesn’t think like you or look like you. It’s the constant negativity in general that is simply exhausting. Words, said face to face or behind ones’ back, can be damning. Hateful stares leave lasting impressions. Physical altercations can instill fear and mistrust for a lifetime.

Maybe we should all step up to the challenge to intervene when we see bullying firsthand or at the very least, ensure we aren’t part of the problem. BE the change. Speak up amongst the silence. Fight for the underdog. And for the love of all that is good and holy, when you can not say something nice, than please just be quiet.image

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~Empathy instead of pride~ August 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:01 pm
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About a month ago, something happened that made me withdraw from posting for a bit. I was so furious that I knew if I tried to write about it, all that would come across was my complete outrage. I try to encourage with the things that I post and when the wound was fresh, I didn’t have it in me to be Miss Susie Sunshine. So I guess I should begin with “the incident.”

My girls went out for ice cream with Nana & Papa Losh. Hubs and I were out with the boys so we were unaware of what had happened until it was all said and done. All was going well with the excursion until my youngest went to throw away her trash. As they went to leave, an older gentleman stopped my mother.

“Hey, that little girl right there…”

“Yes?”

“She flipped-off my wife!”

At this point, my little Bella dissolved into tears and buried her face into my mother’s legs.

“She’s only 5! She doesn’t even know what that means!!”

“Oh, she knew what she was doing”

“Are you serious, you are making a child cry!”

So this dude was relentless. A grown man made a child cry and he was quite indignant about it. He was proud of himself even. Somehow, my mom managed to keep her composure and get the girls out before she decked the guy in their presence. Papa Losh fired off a “shut your mouth” as the bully continued his rant as they were attempting to leave. Other patrons of the restaurant sat stunned at this guy’s over the top reaction to an obvious misunderstanding. What this man didn’t know was that my girl points with her middle finger. As a matter of fact, all of my kids did when they were younger.

I’m sure every parent out there can imagine my reaction to this story as it unfolded. Every part of me wanted to race to the ice cream shop in hopes that the man was still there so I could tell him what a stand up guy he was. Quite honestly, the only reason hubs & I didn’t bolt was because too much time had passed. So instead, we all fumed about what kind of human being could be smug about making a little girl cry. We all loved on Bella and explained to her that sometimes, people are just mean.

After this, every interaction I saw online seemed to be people attacking each other. Fights were  breaking out over politics and social movements, insults were thrown around as if they were no big deal, and people’s feelings were being hurt, intentionally. Over and over again and I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t encourage because I was so completely discouraged myself.

I know without a doubt that I have hurt people. I’ve made people cry, most often the ones I love the most. In spite of this truth, I can say with complete certainty that I have never once felt good about being responsible for someone’s pain. I could not wrap my mind around the level of meanness I was seeing, first with the ice cream debacle and then online. All I could picture when watching these fights fester was my little girl’s face all scrunched up and tear streaked and the face of a stranger, grinning smugly at his accomplishment. So I withdrew. I limited my contact with the outside world and skimmed over every post that appeared inflammatory. No part of me could comprehend what would inspire satisfaction, knowing that you were the cause of another’s pain.

During this time, what I’ve come to realize is, we can’t possibly understand why people hurt each other. We are meant to be empathetic, compassionate and do our best at making the world we live in a better place. My mom could have blessed that man out. I could have weighed in on the online attacks, berating the parties for their behavior. But what good would have come from that? In either circumstance, all we would have done was add to the hurt and anger and chaos.

My blood still boils when I think of my baby hurting at the expense of another’s poor choices. I still can’t say what I would have done had it been me that he addressed. My heart still aches when I see friends become enemies over opposing views. All I can say at this point is that I think it’s sad to look around and see people feeling prideful about their ability to inflict pain. It does happen, often, but even in our anger, even when it’s justified, if we dissolve someone to tears, can we at least try to be empathetic? Just try,that’s all any of us can ever do. angelou

 

 

~Admitting Ignorance and Seeking Forgiveness~ July 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:58 am
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“She and Molly are about as opposite as it is possible to be, which would be fine if Dina didn’t take Molly’s choices as a personal affront.”

It’s been a couple months now since I finished reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline that my friend, Julia, sent to me. I remember reading the above excerpt and feeling an immediate check in my spirit. With the recent events in the news, I was reminded once again of this line. 
Being polar opposites would not be an issue if we weren’t so quick to take offense to one another’s choices. When I peruse social media, that’s exactly what I see. People on opposing sides berating each other in attempts to defend “their side.” I’m all for a good debate, the problem is when it gets personal and turns into a name-calling show down. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them an idiot. You see this in response to all manner of topics: politics, religious beliefs, parenting styles, lifestyle choices…I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture. 
We live in a diverse nation. We have an opportunity to learn & grow from our differences or we can segregate ourselves, choosing to shut out anyone who doesn’t fit the same mold. 
I will be the first to admit that I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. I grew up in a small, Southern town. I am NOT knocking that, I loved my small town life! However, the minority population was small and not particularly diverse as was the LGBTQ community. So it’s fair to say I’m pretty uneducated when it comes to the issues they face because I’ve not experienced it firsthand. I’m going to admit something that’s really hard to say, my lack of knowledge has at times come across as fear. Allow me to elaborate. When you grow up being the majority and having no real exposure to different cultures, all you “know” is what you watch or read. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many positive stories about Muslims, African-Americans or the LGBTQ community. I want to change that perception by doing my part to see people for who they are, not their skin tone, religious coverings, whose hand they choose to hold or any other “book covers” that would cause me to make unfair categorizations. 
I hope that my willingness to admit my own ignorance will open others to the same. I know I can never truly understand the level of discrimination others face. I can do better at being a friend to all and not making assumptions based on preconceived notions that have no real basis other than my irrational fears derived from biased news coverage.  

 For those who have been on the receiving end of my ignorance, I ask for your forgiveness & the opportunity to show I can be a better version of myself. Let’s all look for ways to love one another today BECAUSE of our differences. 

 

~When Saying Nothing isn’t an Option~ July 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 12:13 pm
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 It’s been quite some time since I sat down to write. I thought it was because I had nothing to say but with a little more reflection, I think it’s because I’ve been struggling with having something encouraging to say and I don’t like to add to the constant negativity that surrounds us. Then I wake up this morning and see yet another string of horrific events.

Honestly, I have yet to recover from the mass shooting in Florida and much has happened since then. I rarely watch the news. That’s probably irresponsible of me but it truly depresses me to the point that it affects my ability to function. I feel helpless and frustrated and terrified to walk out the door with my children. I did tune in once this week to see that over 60 shootings occurred in Chicago over the holiday weekend. Granted there were only 4 fatalities but among the injured were a 5 & 8 year old shot while playing with sparklers! This morning social media informs me of not one, but two officer involved shootings followed up by a sniper attack?! I have a limited knowledge of all of the above because I can’t watch the video footage circulating and of course if we aren’t present, all we know is what the media presents. But it appears to me that every single instance was driven by hate. When did it become the norm to turn to rage & murder simply because you don’t “agree” with someone? Instead of people mourning the sensless loss of human life, arguments flare up over gun control, immigration and politics. I have never claimed to be the most educated but one thing I do know for certain is hate solves nothing.

I’ve been silent since the Orlando shooting because I have no desire to engage in these sorts of arguments. The moment I read an article about a momma texting her son who was later killed in that nightclub, my whole world changed. At any moment, that could be any one of us, staring down the barrel of a gun, begging for mercy where there is none. Possibly even more sobering, it could be any one of us on the other end of the line, where someone we love is the one in peril. People, can you even imagine? One minute you’re enjoying a night out, singing in your place of worship or just going about your daily business and the next, your world is flipped on it’s side.

So I won’t be engaging in a battle over whose lives matter, because to me, they all do. Vengeance is not mine to seek, instead I choose to pray for peace & justice for all victims.