I have been at the beach this week, the first few days with my sister and a friend, and we had such a relaxing time! The last part of the week, I installed a backsplash and painted the kitchen (got a little too intimate with the jigsaw which resulted in a trip to the first aid kit – yikes) and it looks great and I’m really proud of it! That said, I spent the last three days alone, which gives God and I plenty of time to talk.
I am back working with the youth at church, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed that! I was kind of wondering if teenagers weren’t my call at all, but the more I get to know these kids, I’m ready to dive back in. I just love teenagers! The people who say teens are terrible haven’t spent much time with them, is my opinion. You love them just a little bit and they just thrive and love you right back! We have been discussing pet peeves and lying the past couple weeks, and it was funny that two or three of them, their pet peeve is people who lie to you, especially when you know they’re lying, and they know you know! We talked about whether you confront that behavior or just let it go, kind of analyzed that a bit, that there ARE times when you need to confront and bring truth to a relationship, or it’s just a big fake everything.
One of the teens approached me after church and asked me to pray for them, that they have a friend who is very negative and just sometimes mean, and they don’t want to be around that but aren’t sure how to deal with it. We discussed it a bit of how to address it in a loving and positive way that doesn’t result in a meltdown and drama….not sure we came up with a good solution, so I have been praying about it, asking God to give me words that could help them deal with this thing they’re faced with every day, a time when being quiet almost gives a tacit approval to the behavior, when inside you are seething with rage at the things they say and do.
As I prayed about what THEY should do, God began to remind me of one of the biggest regrets in my life and reminded me of how I did not do what I should have done, and the result is shame that I still feel 30 years later! Sometimes I wonder if this storytelling is just a public confession booth for me, that God is making me lay myself open so that He can prepare me for a work that I couldn’t/wouldn’t have been able to do with all these things hanging around my neck.
The shame I speak of is remaining silent at a time when I should have just said one word – ONE WORD – and didn’t. Why I didn’t is a mystery to me still today! I had just had Talia and was not back to work yet, but T.K. Barnett, our Circuit Clerk, had died of cancer, and I wanted to attend his funeral. I am not sure how I ended up sitting with who I did, whether we arranged it beforehand or it was just circumstance, but I got there early and sat down next to my friend who was a young lawyer in the prosecutor’s office. People were gathering and the mood was very somber. T.K. was greatly loved and he lived life to the fullest, so the crowd was large. Normally in situations like that, everyone just sits there in respectful silence, waiting for the service to begin.
Not my friend. We hadn’t seen each other in a while because I had been off work, and she begins to update me about all that had gone on while I was off having a baby. She had been seeing this young lawyer from Charleston, and their relationship was developing. She starts updating me on all that had been going on, talking much too loudly, laughing and giggling with “He said this” and “I did that,” blah, blah, blah. As it went on, I became increasingly more uncomfortable, saying nothing but an occasional “Uh-huh,” “Mmmm” – you get the drill. I was mortified that she was acting this way, giggle, giggle, giggle, and I’m thinking she didn’t even know T.K., so this was just a social occasion for her. She’s a lawyer – wasn’t she raised better than this? She should know you don’t do this at a funeral! In my eyes, she was more educated, more connected, more important, more….just more than me. I was just a court reporter who went to a technical school. We weren’t that good of friends, just work acquaintances really. Who was I to tell her to shush? I did occasionally say, “Shhh, don’t talk so loud,” and she’d go, “Oh, I’m sorry,” whisper for the next 30 seconds and then back she was to her loud stories and giggling.
I wanted to disappear. I knew everyone around us was thinking we were being awful, terribly disrespectful, and I knew they believed I was right there with her, giggling and carrying on, and really all I was doing was listening and being too afraid to tell her to just shut up, to sit there and say nothing, to tell me these things later. None of that exited my mouth. Why? I am not a weak person, a pushover, too afraid to open my mouth. Certainly not now, 30 years later. I guess at that age, I was – too cowardly to do the right thing because it might affect this tenuous friendship with someone I wasn’t even sure I liked anyway! To be honest, after that incident, I withdrew from her totally and haven’t thought about her in years, until this year at the legislature, I ran into that boyfriend she was giggling about. He remembered me, and of course I remembered him, and the shame rose up to fill my throat just upon sight of him. He updated me on her – she is a family court judge or something in Boone or Logan County, married to someone else, as is he. I couldn’t get away fast enough.
Do you have things in your life that you are shameful of? I’m sure we all do that are over 40 years old probably, but I really wonder about this generation that we’re raising. Is shame gone? I mean, really. People take their clothes off in public and it’s celebrated as entertainment – they cuss and carry on and it’s celebrated as entertainment – they kiss members of the opposite sex and it’s celebrated as entertainment – we make movies about murder and mayhem and it’s celebrated as entertainment. Our elected leaders lie and deceive, spinning whatever truth they want us idiot followers to believe, and we just plow on. Oh, this week God reminded me of shame, how it does not go away, how just a simple refusal to say “SHHHH” can lead to 30 years of regret, embarrassment over what people may think about you, how just being there while other people are doing and saying things can reflect just as poorly on you. God give us strength (at ANY age) to speak up and do what’s right! You can bet, I won’t be sitting silent again…the cost is just too high.
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.