Preconceived Notions

February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Here is a picture of me and my daughter, Annabelle, taken this week

photo-291

 

So this was an interesting week so far

On Friday and Saturday,  I attended the Single Mom Conference at my church

I’ve never gone to it before

To be honest, I had never gone to much of anything before

At one point I was solidly going to the online campus only

Because walking was too hard

Fitting in tight spaces was impossible

And I had accepted that attending things just wasn’t an option

But here I am 218 pounds later

In a completely different situation physically

No longer held back by the anxiety of not fitting

Or the inability to walk without pain

So this year I could finally go!

 

It’s a really big place and I should log the walk from my car to the door

On a pedometer one day just to see the steps!

I was halfway to the door when I realized I had forgotten my cell phone

Do you know the absolute misery that would have set in

Had that happened 19 months ago?

The very idea that I would have to walk ALL the way back to the car to retrieve my phone

Would have been devastating

Because by the time I had gotten even halfway to the door, I would have been practically in tears

From the pain it took to walk that far

But this time….it was no big deal at all

 

I went right in and found a table

No need to scout out the area for possible problems

Trying to anticipate the space around people and tables

No need to check for tight spaces

Analyze the chairs to see if they were sturdy enough

Investigating how much room there would be for me to maneuver in and out

Whether my chair was on the outside facing a row or not

Ensuring I was not in someone’s way as my body would usually pour over the sides

Nope—all the preliminary checklists were out the window

This time I just walked in and sat down

Without a second thought

 

The speaker was  Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier

She is the President of Texas A&M here in San Antonio

She shared her story of becoming a  single mom at age 30 with not even a drivers license.

She started out at community college and went on to earn her Doctorate.

Now she’s President of a major university.

I related to so much of what she said

Especially about not being allowed to drive during her marriage

And then suddenly having to learn all at once

Under the pressure of also becoming a single Mom

To hear her speaking about this brought tears to my eyes

As I recalled my own experience in learning to drive all over again

At the age of 33 with babies in carseats crying in the back

It was an honor for me to meet her

And a privilege to speak with her afterwards

photo-290

 

I’m 5’2″ and I almost look tall next to her

And here is where it occurs to me

That I have preconceived notions

Because when you see her, she’s small

But when you hear her speak

You realize..she’s not small at all

She’s a woman of great courage

You would never think the President of a major university

Had not started college  until she turned 30

Isn’t it amazing that we think we know people

We imagine they have lived some charmed life?

Always judging who they are by what we see

And never moving beyond our preconceived notions

 

I’ve always despised how people judged me because of my weight

Assuming I was uneducated because I was over 400 pounds

Assuming I was lazy because I was obese

But people just assume things

They think they know you from what they see

Never taking the time to move beyond their own preconceived notions

 

After Dr. Ferrier spoke

There was going to be a Q& A panel of women

Who would be  giving advice on how to deal with different situations as a single mother

And then I saw her name

The name of the woman who leads the women’s ministry

You know the one

Whose had a perfect life

The castle, the slipper, the fairy tale

And I thought to myself

Why is SHE on the panel??

I’ve seen her around for a few years now

Known who she was

But I just didn’t get it

How is she going to do Q&A about being a single mother??

And why would she try?

 

And then it happened

I got annoyed

I thought to myself ….”Well she’s really nice BUT she should not be on the panel

Only someone who has walked in my shoes should dole out advice!

And besides….I know her

She always looks so put together

She’s beautiful and well dressed and well spoken

Her hair always looks perfect and she’s sweet

I’ve heard her speak about her husband and her adult children

And I think  to myself

Great…Someone who has had a perfect life, perfect husband and perfect family is going to tell ME about being a single mother

I almost did not go back the next day

Because I thought to myself “I can’t take hearing someone with such a perfect life tell me how I should handle mine

 

But the next day I woke up and felt the pressing need to go back

So I did

The panel introduced themselves

And this woman began to speak

What she said surprised me

She shared about how she had been a single mother

How her first marriage had ended in divorce

How she had struggled on her own to take care of her children

How she had a job in COLD CALL SALES

Ok that was it….she had me now…

COLD CALL SALES???

You have my respect…

I was shocked

How was it possible that this woman who I thought I knew

Who I had seen around church for two years

Who I had sized up

Who had perfect hair and clothes and a sweet voice

Could have ever struggled at one point in her life??

And there it was….

Judgement…Preconcieved Notions

 

People have done it to me for years

Because of my weight

But now here I am

Doing it to her

I listened to her story on the edge of my seat

Shocked and amazed by what she had been through

And taken in by her wisdom

I went home that day and when I walked in the door

I told my girls….”You’ll never believe it”

That woman…HER….she has been where I’ve been

She has walked where I’ve walked

They were surprised too!!

It was like the earth had shifted under our feet

For all of us had assumed her to be this woman

With some perfect life

We had her all figured out

She had married some perfect man

And lived some  idyllic life

Without a single problem or struggle

Because after all

She’s so happy and put together all the time

She could never understand me!!

 

What’s wrong with me, I thought??

How could I have been so wrong?

Why would I assume anything about anyone?

And what did I miss out on because of my preconceived notions?

Because I didn’t hear what she had to say

When I was too busy making my assumptions

 

That night I woke up at 2:30 am

And I could not sleep

I was wrestling with something

So I started to pray

God spoke to me clearly

He does that sometimes

And He said

“APOLOGIZE”

Yep…

That’s what He told me

He said “Apologize to her for judging her.  For assuming you knew who she was

I’ve had to do this before

Apologize to people

And it’s always humbling

But…..”WHY??”….I said

“It’s not as if I had SAID something to her!!”

“It’s not as if she knew that I had misjudged her!”

But God wouldn’t let up

And I knew what I had to do

I wrote her an email

And apologized

For judging her without reason

For holding a preconceived notion about who she was

For never taking the time to hear what she had to say

Because I thought she could never relate to me

 

Last night she shared more of her story

And it deeply touched my heart

I had to grab tissues because the tears were welling up

Hearing what she’d been through

And I realize now that while I hated being judged as an obese person

I do it too

Maybe we all do

And sometimes

We don’t even realize we’re doing it

 

For years I was isolated in this recliner where I sit right now

Surrounded only by my food and my fear of the outside world

Assuming everyone out there was judging me

Yet on some level….judging them too

 

I am beginning to realize now that it’s safe to tread further into the water

To step further out of the boat

And to open my mind up to the possibility

That there could be people out there who might understand me

Who might relate to me

And that maybe it’s time I stop assuming I’m all alone in this world

And realize

That opening myself up

And taking chances on people

Is a path worth taking

 

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Steelers6 February 20, 2013 at 4:47 am

Ooo, uh um–good reminder!! We’re probably
all guilty …

You and Annabelle look SO nice. Great
photo.

Good job on going to the conference. I’m
guessing that attending was still stepping out of
your comfy zone to some degree.

Interesting thought–I can’t help but wonder
about people’s preconceived notions of you NOW.
You know, you probably come across like
the speaker seemed to you, to some folks.
Stylish, slim, attractive, friendly, beautiful
family, smart, smiley, um, like ya have
it all together. No pressure. 🙂 Just kinda
strange if we stop & think about what others
might see.

Thanks for sharing. I’m curious about her
response to your apology. 🙂
Chrissy

Reply

sandie February 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

Two beautiful women.

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Lee Ann February 20, 2013 at 11:36 am

Great reminder Holly! My friend and I were just talking about this the other day. How she is looked at differently and judged because of her weight loss. How people have a preconceived notion about how she should behave, eat, etc. It frustrated her so much to the point she almost quit. Quit working out, quit with the trainer, everything. I was so glad she turned to me for some motivation to keep going.
Lee Ann recently posted..Sick Child Equals Exhausted ParentsMy Profile

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Linda Kuil February 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I’m guilty of it, too, Holly. How ignorant of me!
Linda Kuil recently posted..Half Way ThereMy Profile

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jennxaz February 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I love this post..and can so relate. I work on my judging daily. This is something I struggle with.

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Courtney February 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

A very humbling post for us all.

I hope the conference you attended was encouraging! Maybe even a starting point for some new friendships at church? 🙂
Courtney recently posted..Fat Courtney vs. Skinny CourtneyMy Profile

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Lynne February 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Thank you for this post, judging is an issue for me. I think its a defense mechanism – I’ll judge them before they judge me and then that will hurt less?? I don’t like it when I do it – its really just another nasty habit I need to change (add it to the already overwhelming list!) Your writing has been really hitting home with me lately…conjuring up some icky feelings that will hopefully turn into positive action! Have a glorious day 🙂

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Lori February 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Wow. That is very powerful. It proves once again that we cannont judge a person’s insides by looking at their outsides.
I always seem to fall in to the trap of thinking everyone else’s life is perfect. We never really know until we open ourselves up.
Lori

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Tess February 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Great post, and a great reminder!

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Tasha Cantrell February 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thank you for the reminder! I needed this today. Be Blessed!

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Pam February 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Holly, I find myself judging others all the time. I hate that about myself. It’s just so wrong, because like you said, we hated it when others judged us harshly because of our obesity….assuming we were stupid and/or lazy. I heard it said once that everybody has something in their life that is not perfect, that is a struggle, even if outwardly you can’t see it. The problem with our obesity is that we couldn’t hide it. Our addiction was out there for the whole world to see. Maybe I will take your advice and apologize to a few of those people who I’ve judged wrongly over the years. You think I’d have learned my lesson by now.
Pam recently posted..Damn Lauren Conrad!My Profile

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kristi February 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Great post!!! I try my hardest not to do this but we are all guilty sometimes.

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Michele Moore February 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Beautiful post!
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katie metzroth February 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm

that’s beautiful.

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Tina February 21, 2013 at 1:09 am

I feel the earth shaking! BIG thoughts, BIG! You make me smile, think and want to change.
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Cathy February 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Holly, this reminds me so much of one of my daughters. She is a single mom of two beautiful children. She was in a bad marriage and had to get out fast because of abuse, she went to an area shelter instead of coming back to our home. She is raising her family with God’s help, working part time and getting her masters in counseling. Today she is back at that shelter helping women, who think she has always had it all together. She is still working hard to make ends meet but God is blessing her and teaching her lessons everyday. I know the plans he has for her are big and as much as I would of loved sheltering her from these experiences I know that God will turn them all into good.

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flamingjune1967 February 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

After my weight loss, I remember saying something encouraging to a guy at the gym, and was SHOCKED by his response:
“You skinny people just don’t know how hard it is!”
What???
But then I recalled saying similar things to other “skinny” people in the past, and I felt so ashamed that I had made that assumption about others. I’m also ashamed to say that lately I have found myself looking at overweight folks and feeling superior. But then, I find myself falling, once again, into uncontrolled eating. Life has a way of keeping us humble. And one thing I have realized is that my prejudice is based mostly in fear. I can be as prideful about my new and improved body as I want, but in the back of my mind I know that the old me is just a heartbreak, a surgery, an injury, or a bout of depression away. That’s why I have to put my trust in God… because I am just so undependable.
Great post, and I also loved the youTube video you linked in your last post. I mostly lurk, but find your writing inspiring.

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Lilian February 23, 2013 at 6:29 am

Beautiful post. Thank you.
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Cindy February 25, 2013 at 2:41 am

Holly, as usual you are spot on! I am so thankful you use your God-given talent with words to encourage others with your blog. I also want to add that both you and your daughter are beautiful:)

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Alison March 6, 2013 at 1:24 am

You are beautiful, inside and out, Holly!
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