“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” FALSE
In an ironic twist, the very platforms that were launched to give everyone a voice have created the very place where opinions are like bellybuttons, and when mine isn’t like yours, you can berate me for it. Social media bullying has replaced social graces and tolerance, in the very name of tolerance itself. The world of social media is an ugly, ugly place.
Those who know me well know that one of my joys in life is seeing other people develop to come “out of their shell” and reach their full potential. I’m about helping others achieve whatever their goals and dreams are… and sometimes in the process, they need a little push…. not over a cliff, but sometimes out of their comfort zone. I do it, not because I think there’s anything wrong with them being in their comfort zone, but because I’ve discovered that sometimes, when we take a leap outside of it, we discover a whole new world, a whole new perspective and whole new experiences that we’d have never known had we just stayed inside our box. It is exhilarating to me to watch people discover they had the ability to do things they never thought possible.
I take very literally the scripture where a Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly” and feel it’s part of my mission in life to help others achieve abundant life.
I also come about this mission quite naturally because, in my young life, I was very much governed by “victim” mentality, having lost my father to cancer early in my life. From age 8 to about 22, I felt very sorry for myself and allowed that loss to affect all areas of my life. I didn’t walk around talking about it, but had sunk so deep in depression that I was truly unable to pull myself out of the mud. In hindsight, I would actually say my depression caused by that loss had truly disabled me from even wanting to achieve anything.
By Gods grace, He truly picked me out of the muck and mire and put a passion in me to a) recognize this characteristic in other people b) encourage them that they, too, can be pulled out of the muck and mire. In both my professional career as an engineering manager and director of music studio, and in my personal life as a youth leader for our youth group, I seek to pull people out of their “victim” and to “victory” through Gods grace, and to achieve what they never knew was possoble. My passion is fueled because I can so clearly see what I was and what I’ve become, through Christ alone… it is not a change I could have made on my own. I was truly headed for self destruction… and God literally came after me like the Shepherd goes after the one lost sheep.
All of this is backdrop for an incident that occurred online that truly has me very upset, mostly because I felt it was an unfair attack on my character.
One of the groups I belong to on social media is for online music teachers, a support group and a “safe” place where teachers can ask for advice and feedback from others. It’s been a great resource, especially during Covid where so many lessons have gone from face to face to online in many cases. Questions range from technical setup to teaching techniques to business questions, and everything in between. The creator of the group seems wonderfully caring and encouraging to the teaching community.
The other day, a teacher posted a question asking how to deal with a student who refused to count outloud and, as a result, could not play the correct rhythm. In my studio, when teaching students rhythm, I require them to count outloud, even if they are shy or awkward about it. (It’s actually one of the techniques I use to help people come out of their shell). As an aside, my personal experience with rhythm probably exacerbated my passion for correct rhythm. My first two piano teachers never really stressed good rhythm with me. As a result, my rhythm was terrible… until I auditioned to take lessons (yes, I had to audition to be accepted as a student) with a professor at Duquesne University. He told me my rhythm was terrible (and he didn’t mince words!) and essentially demanded that I learn it correctly. I rose to the challenge, and have committed that I will always do my best to teach students what I wasn’t taught by my first two teachers.
Other teachers responded in similar fashion, that they would force students to count loud, but one of the teachers apparently did not like my response and lashed out at me (but not the other teachers who said they required outloud counting) and said my rigid ways were “SUPER, SUPER albeist”
Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability.
Can I just say here that I’m honestly sick to death of the people who think every comment is a social prejudice of some sort? My goodness… I truly feel as though we’ve become a victim society!
That said, I will admit that her unfair label of me is bothersome… my initial response truly was anger and resentment. Who did she think she was calling me an albeist!? And then my reaction was to recoil, and all sorts of thoughts of self doubt came through my mind, as if it was telling me she’s right and that I’ve never really helped anyone at all, so why keep trying? I’ve lived this pattern before… it’s theme is all through the book Masquerade and I believe it’s a lie Satan would have us believe to render us ineffective.
I think about the outcasts I knew from school, the kids who sat by themselves at lunchtime, the ones who had no friends and were picked on… I wonder if they ever figured out that they are more valuable than the label someone put on them unfairly because they didn’t understand their past, or their true personality, or their true motives.
I know not everyone in my life will love me, or even like me for that matter, but this week was a reminder of how important it is to treat others with respect. I will not apologize for trying to help someone achieve what they didn’t think possible. I will apologize for hurting someone’s feelings, which is something I would never intentionally do. I will try my best to not label someone unfairly, and I will forgive those who have done so unto me, that I might be able to grow instead of recoil. … most importantly, I will continue to help other people grow in whatever way I can as that is a passion that truly fuels my spirit. I will seek to understand what makes them.
As I contemplated leaving the group, I reached out to its founder to thank him for everything he’s done to create a support group for online teachers and wished him well. He asked what happened and I shared with him. He immediately responded with a video message saying unfortunately sometimes aren’t ready to accept that they need help or need to change something …that perhaps at a later point they will realize the wisdom in the help offered… and that perhaps my comments helped someone else who needed to hear them. He encouraged me to keep being who I am.
May we please continue to learn from one another instead of tearing each other down. May we continue to evolve and grow and encourage others to do the same in a loving way. I pray God will give me grace to give to others when I need to give it, but continue to allow God to develop others and me into who He intended is to be, that’d we’d love the abundant life He intended us to have.
Be blessed today, my friends. If you’ve made it this far in my post today, I congratulate you! Forgive the rant… it’s been weighing heavy on my heart. I am forever grateful for those who pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve what I never thought possible. Had it not been for them, I would still be the insecure wallflower that I was all those years ago.