I learned a valuable lesson on Sunday. It has to do with trying to teach a principle and trying to use personal stories or experiences to make the lesson more relevant in our own lives. It has to do with trying to connect with people and understand where they might be coming from, while at the same time, trying to stress the importance of the said very important principle. It was ward conference again and I am still feeling the titanic-like emotion from January’s meetings and can now add the emotions and unrest from February’s meetings.
I used someone I care very deeply about — seriously adore — for an object lesson. I don’t think I used his/her name but it apparently was easy for people to figure it out. Pretty soon someone texted someone and it got back to the one I was talking about. Even though what I was saying wasn’t really currently applicable as much as it used to be, I should have never used this example. It ended up hurting people who I never intended hurting.
That’s the thing, though, isn’t it? When you talk about someone, even if it is with intention to say, hey, do this, not this . . . it will bless your life more than you can ever imagine . . it still stings when others hear it. I basically threw this loved one under the bus and I am so, so regretting. I remember when my own mother used some of my mistakes or life experiences to teach others what to do and what not to do. I remember being skipped over in the family business because I was too unpredictable and ‘flighty,’ I think was the work my dad used. I remember my mother telling some of the younger kids to not do what I had done with my life. I also remember them being disappointed in me for most of my memories. Whether that actually is true, I don’t know, but it’s how I remember. [I’m guessing now, they look down and see me trying harder to make up for those hard years.]
I need to make a sign that says, “Thou Shalt Not Throw Loved Ones Under the Bus!” I need to look at it every day and read it several times. Because this person did not deserve to be used as an object lesson. It doesn’t matter how it totally made the point I was trying to make. It doesn’t matter that some people said, “Oh wow, that is a wake-up call for me! I see what you are saying now!” It doesn’t matter that I thought I could personalize something. It just doesn’t matter. I can’t rationalize my way out of this. It was hurtful. Subject closed.
And for that, I am very, very sorry.