It’s Friday and for many, it’s the beginning of a long holiday weekend. I was awake for quite some time last night; maybe it was the late afternoon coffee. My hands were folded on my chest as I said The Lord’s Prayer and reflected on these particular words:
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Last week, I celebrated St. Jean Baptiste Day with some of my new Franco friends. I didn’t blog about it; I’m not sure why. I was very excited about the day. In fact, I was so excited I hung three flags from my porch–the American Flag, the Canadian Flag, and Quebec’s blue and white fleur-de-lis. I was rushing around, trying to get dressed and do ten other things.
You know how it goes.
I ran outside and took a quick picture and posted it on Facebook with a few French words. I sped off in my car to pick up my favorite Franco, Saint Helen of Immaculata.
At some point in the afternoon, after the meal and the singing and the speeches, I took a quick technology break. Friends had “liked” my post and one or two commented. Oddly, one friend who almost never likes or comments on any of my posts pointed out that I had hung my American flag backwards. Even though a very wise woman once told me not to read “tone” into e-mails (and by application, Facebook comments) I did detect a subtle “tone” to this friend’s words. Maybe it was because this friend was a former member of the military and thought I had disrespected the flag. Or maybe it was because…oh, I don’t know. I’m not even going to discuss the range of possibilities I entertained.
It really hurt my feelings. Not because the accusation was incorrect. I had, indeed, hung the flag vertically with the blue union on the right and not the left. In my haste, I had hung the flag incorrectly. I was mortified, not because I am a perfectionist, but because I have studied flag etiquette very closely. This was probably the first time I had ever, ever hung the flag incorrectly. I have never hung the flag in bad weather and I have never left the flag outside in the dark. I have never let my flags touch the ground.
I deleted my Facebook post in shame.
Since that day, I’ve thought a bit about how we give feedback to other people. I once had a boss who gave me a great tip for giving feedback. She suggested saying “hey, can I tell you something, friend to friend?”
If you’ve spent any time working in corporate environments, you know that giving feedback is often best done privately, versus the public shaming method. If my “friend” had told me, privately, that I had hung the flag incorrectly, it wouldn’t have eased my mortification. But at least I wouldn’t have felt publicly embarrassed for such a minor crime. As it was, I texted Handy and asked him to go to my house and flip the flag.
And you wonder why he thinks I’m a little “high maintenance?”
This morning, as I took a walk around town, I wondered why so many people enjoy bringing others down. It happens all the time and hey, I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of it myself. That doesn’t make it good for societal thriving.
If I told my “friend” about my hurt feelings, it’s quite possible I would be told that since I “put myself out there” I was opening myself up to feedback and criticism. That’s certainly true.
I know, I am a little more sensitive than the average woman.
As I finished up my prayers last night and went through my own personal list of daily sins, I asked God to help me be more like a trellis.
Being “independent” doesn’t always mean never asking for help. In fact, some of the most beautiful flowers in the garden sometimes need a little encouragement to stand tall and add their particular loveliness to the arrangement.
Here’s my annual list of “Independence Day” reading.
Be a trellis this weekend and hold others up.