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silhouette of two person sitting on chair near tree
Picture of two friends sitting in chairs seen in silhouette at sunset under a large tree. They are facing each other as if deep in conversation.

Happy as a clam.

Cute as a button. 

Fit as a fiddle.

Do these phrases even make sense? How do we know clams are happy? Has someone taken a seaside-survey?

A button, cute? Useful, maybe. But I’ve never seen a button in a beauty contest!

And a fiddle is fit? It looks like it’s wearing a tiny corset. Maybe this musical pun is a groaner, but that can’t be good for its organs! 

So how about this saying: Goody two-shoes. Do the baddies only wear one shoe? 

It’s not possible to make sense of things as they once were, because time marches on and things change. 

Old sayings are like old ways of doing things.

It might’ve made sense to someone, at some point in time. But we’re in a new era. So just as a general rule, and public service, let me offer some sage counsel.

When someone confides a painful truth to you, please do not do this:

  • Gaslight them (say, “I’ve never experienced it, thus, it hasn’t happened to you.”)
  • Blame them (say, “What did you do to cause X? What were you wearing/saying/thinking,” etc.)
  • Snow them (say, “I know exactly how you feel.” No you don’t. You know how you feel. What they’re going through is another person’s situation.)

Show up as a friend, and if that person with a painful truth wants to talk about it, honor that. If they don’t, you know the drill…. Honor that. Silence isn’t the enemy. They may just want to sit and “be.”  

Come to think of it, there are some wise old sayings that still hold true, like this one: “A sweet friendship restores the soul,” Proverbs 27:9. Give your friend in pain space when they need it, and solace when they ask for it. You’ll know how to be there when you listen with your heart.

Life coaches.  Personal trainers.  Business mentors.  There’s always somebody trying to sell you their expertise.  But is anybody really an expert in how a life should be lived?

Case in point:  Laurie Ann Martinez, a prison psychologist in California who wanted to move to a safer neighborhood, but her husband wouldn’t agree to move.

So, one day, she and her friend, April Snyder, staged her home to look like a crime scene.  Snyder put on boxing gloves and punched Martinez in the mouth, causing her lip to bleed.  Martinez scraped her knuckles with sandpaper and urinated in her clothes to make it appear that she had been assaulted and knocked unconscious by an intruder.

A co-worker turned her in and her husband divorced her.  Now, ironically, she’ll be moving – but not necessarily to a safer location.  She’s going to jail.

As I started writing this post, it was about people who believe the end justifies the means, but then I re-read my co-writers’ posts for this week and decided to focus on grace and not the infraction.  I wondered what had led this woman – no, strike that – this child of God to leave the right path and fall into the mud.

Then it came to me.

People who feel hurt do hurtful things.

Of course, the prison psychologist had emotional issues, but it didn’t come from a vacuum.  My theory is that her marriage had been in trouble for some time.  It could also have been exacerbated by the hopeless work environment she toiled in, and the futility of trying to improve the lives of prisoners who might never again see the light of day in the real world.

I’m not sure it applies to everyone who’s done something wrong, but if pain begets pain, maybe the antidote is compassion. A small act of kindness that breaks the cycle of pain could set one solitary soul free from a lonely cage.

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