"Just Shut Up"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Those are the words I wanted to say to an older lady at Target yesterday. She had a snaggletooth, unkempt black hair, and a floral cardigan that looked like something Maria Von Trapp had crafted from her bedroom curtains. Now normally I don't want to open a can of "Are you kidding me?" on a total stranger. I go to the red pie in the sky for some necessary ill-advised retail therapy, not to throw diaper boxes at older ladies.

There I was, perusing the diaper aisle at Target and completely consumed by my thoughts on cloth diapering (pathetic, yes). I was wearing yoga pants (as always) and a tank top that greatly accentuated my baby bump. My hair was in complete disarray, thrown haphazardly in a bun. My thick, brown glasses were a poor attempt at hiding the complete lack of makeup on my pale, childlike face. (The husband's away, the mascara does not come out to play.) And I was carrying a couple of long-sleeved shirts that I was going to purchase for myself.

I caught this woman staring at me from the end of the aisle, and I knew she was about to approach me. A weird thing about being pregnant is that people love to talk to you. Random people. They love to ask you about your pregnancy, the gender, when you're due, etc. It's a strange sense of community that I've felt with several people who've I never met and probably will never see again, and I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't love every second of it.

When the woman opened her mouth to converse with me, I assumed she would be asking me the same sorts of questions. After all, I was in the baby aisle and I was very obviously pregnant. Questions, however, were the last thing on this lady's obvious agenda.

"Hi there. I see you're looking at the diapers."
Thank you, Captain Obvious. "That's right. Just trying to figure out the best ones that aren't going to cost me a fortune, if you know what I mean." (Fake laugh.) Please don't give me your two cents on Pampers vs. Luvs.
She grimaced and shook her head as though I had just told her a puppy died. "Well dear, that's what we get when we make poor life choices. We have to deal with the consequences of our actions, and unfortunately, it looks like paying for diapers isn't going to be something you can avoid."
"Um, right." I awkwardly shuffle backward. "I didn't mean that I won't love to pay for them. But they are diapers, after all. No one actually wants to pay for those things." (Fake laugh, fake laugh. More awkward shuffles.)
"I understand. I just thought you should know that this isn't the bottom for you. Just because you made one mistake doesn't mean that Jesus won't..."

I stopped listening at that point. I could feel my face grow warm with embarrassment. My grip around the cotton shirts in my hand significantly tightened, as I realized what she was implying.

She thinks I'm a knocked-up teenager too poor to pay for diapers.

I'm not against confrontation (Grahm will laugh when he reads that). Usually, I can handle my own. People assuming I'm 14 or 15 is nothing new to me, as you may recall from this post. But this completely floored me. I was flabbergasted at her brash comments, her hasty assumptions, and her completely misguided "Jesus talk." This frizzy lady knew me about as well as she knew how to use a comb, and yet ... she was judging me, lecturing me in the middle of Target, and preaching to me that Jesus can get me through this "trying time." I was frozen and furious and completely mortified.

When she finally finished her speech, most of which I completely tuned out, I mumbled something about being "24 and married and uh, thanks for your concern." I waddled away as quickly as my pregnant legs would carry me and made a mental note to try not to look homeless next time I'm in public.

On my way home, I was confused. Should I laugh or cry? This woman might have had good intentions, I don't know. I don't know her heart. But her approach was wrong, so so wrong. She made me feel cornered and judged, not loved and cared about. I mean, how could she? She didn't even know my name, let alone my life story.

I got to stewing on this interaction for the rest of the evening, and one question kept coming to my mind: Why do people hate Christians? Some people may say, "We are hated because others are ignorant to the truth" or "God told us we would suffer." All of those may be true, but did you every consider people hate Christians because of us, the Christians?

It's because of people just like this misguided woman at Target, people just like ME, that we are so loathed by our culture. We love to waggle our self-righteous fingers at someone else, whether we know them or not. We don't care about their lives or their hurting hearts; we care about the "rules." We care about our opinions; we don't care about Christ's. We care about our own grace; we don't care about anyone else's. We care about justice; we don't care about truly sharing the gospel.

Oftentimes, I think the best way we can love people--the most effective way of displaying Christ to our friends, our families, and the random people we meet in Target--is exactly what I wanted to yell at this unkind, old lady... just shut up.

43 comments:

Mikell Gordon said...

oh. my. hell.

Are you kidding me?? I absoulutely would have lost it. I'm all about confrontation (when needed) and I would have absolutely died.

People are crazy!!

Miranda said...

Hey Jena! I'm a new follower here, and I just wanted to tell you how much I truly appreciate this post. Everything that you said is so true. My friends and I actually had a conversation the other day about this...about how being a Christian sometimes automatically puts you at the bottom of someone's list, and it's all because of actions like this woman took with you. She probably felt like she was "showing you the love of Christ," when she was actually just being hurtful and tacking God's name onto the end of it. I'm so sorry that happened to you...she should be ashamed of herself.

Loving your blog! :)

Miranda
youngprogress.blogspot.com

Emily said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately and therefore also in my daily actions. (The Christian thing, not the teenage pregnancy thing ;)) What is the best way for me to show God's love to others? You really hit the nail right on the head.

Ashley said...

I would have lost my marbles on her! Lol

-Danica- said...

Wow.. that is so crazy. Even if you WERE an un-wed pregnant teen, that is not even close to okay. I mean, I'm as judgmental as the next person (totally working on that), but coming out and shoving it in someones face like that is a whole other story. And the oddest part about all of it is, how does that lady think that that is really how Christ would have handled the situation?? Because I am positive that is not how the conversation would have gone..

Glad you are not a teen and pregnant and doing it on your own :)

The Adventures of Kathryn said...

I was raised "Catholic". My parents taught me about God. And until our lives got so crazy with school events and sports tournaments, we went to Church every Sunday. And even though we stopped going, it didn't mean we didn't believe. We just got to a point where we believed that we didn't need to go to Church to have faith.

About this time, I started becoming aware of other religions in my town. The town I grew up in was small, and here the Catholic church was not a strict as it is elsewhere, and for the most part the congregation was openminded and didn't try to force their faith on others. So I wasn't used to other religions doing that.

As I grew up I realized that other religions, and even other Catholic congregations weren't as "easy going" and open minded as my own. And as a teenager I was one of those kids that other Churches tried to "save" and sway to join their congregation because they believed my Church was fostering heathens. They're judgmental, pushy ways really put a sour taste in my mouth about organized religion. One that really hasn't gone away.

I agree with you 100%. Sometimes it is we as Christians who cause others to look at us unkindly. Because being Christian is not an excuse for being, judgmental, pushy and rude. We should show people the Love of God by supporting them, and helping them, instead of preaching at them.

Helene in Between said...

oh my goodness! this is so ridiculous. first and foremost even if you were a teen it's just not her business. period. second, you are a married woman who wanted to bring a child into this world and she has the nerve to speak to you this way! I am so so sorry.

Holly said...

Wow...that is a HORRIBLE thing for someone to assume! And for her to actually have the balls to confront you about it? Wow...just....wow. People like that who call themselves "Christians" really irritate me, because we should be spreading God's love to everyone, no matter what their situation is!! If you WERE a knocked-up teenager, she shouldn't be lecturing you about accepting your 'mistake', she should be showing you LOVE, or better yet...she should keep her mouth shut and just pray for whatever your situation is. That's what I would have done, and I do that many times. Ugh. People. Kudos to you for not going off on her and knocking her snaggle tooth right outta her mouth!

Kelsey Eaton said...

That is so annoying! I just know I will get that as well once I'm pregnant. That is unless I still live in Utah where people get married and pregnant at 19 and everyone is stoked haha

KatyK said...

I can't tell you how many times this happened to me while pregnant, and even to this day.

I was asked if I wanted an adult in the room at her 6 week check up. I WAS an adult. A MARRIED one to boot.

People tell Boomer to 'say bye to your sister'...or 'it must be so hard having had her so young.' I mean...I was 20...I wasn't THAT young.

Even at my job. I finished college on the same date as one of my colleagues who started with me at the company the same day. So everyone assumed I was 22...discussing my 7 year old child. It finally came up at lunch one day and I put everyone's mind at ease by telling them no I'd be 28 in August. Not that any of it is anyone's business anyway.

Look at it this way. When everyone else is falling apart, we are still going to look young and fabulous. All you can do for people like this lady is pray for them. People forget all the time that when Jesus was here he was hanging out with prostitutes, tax collectors, sick people, and annoying little kids. As Christians like you said it's important to show God's love. He's the only one sitting in judgement at the end of the day.

'Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.'

....longest comment ever...sorry :)

Veronica Lee Burns said...

WOW I can't even believe this! But yes, I agree. These kinds of situations make people question Christians and that hurts, it breaks my heart. I've had friends who've rejected Christ because of people who act like that.

Sometimes, we need only to be silent. Very true.

Kaysie said...

I rarely make it through posts so long, but girl, you got a funny bone. I'm so glad I found you today, so now I can keep coming back! :)

Laurie @ Disney 'n Diapers said...

You can't pay attention to these people girl. I really WAS a pregnant 15 year old and the way people treated and talked to me will stay with me the rest of my life. It's part of the reason I was determined to finish school, Go to college, have a kick ass career and marry my high school sweetheart. We sure showed everybody when we paid for our house outright in cash:) I can't stand people like that. Who are they to judge ANYONE?!! Sorry this happened, and hope you don't let it get you down!

Annie said...

This breaks my heart. We don't know people's stories, and even we did, we still don't know their hearts. I learned the hard way that often the best way to be Jesus to someone is to shut up and listen.

Katie Did What said...

Ugh, you're absolutely right: some people need to learn to STFU. I can't believe what I have to look forward to!! ;) But you know what I like more than your thoughts on the lady, is your thoughts after the situation. So much truth in it. A lot of people give Christians a bad name, that's for sure. Whatever happened to stopping and asking ourselves, WWJD? Surely, judging, speaking where we have no place to speak, making assumptions and belittling complete strangers (or anyone!) are not any of them.

xo

Lilly Leonard said...

What a smart thought! I totally agree. When we judge others because of their differences from us, we're not looking at them like Christ would. And isn't that all we want to be as Christians? Thanks for the food for thought, I need to work on this!

Ech and Will said...

What a bummer! Some people are painfully oblivious to how they come off. I hope she doesn't make a habit out of lecturing pregnant ladies in the diaper aisle.

Bon Bon said...

whoa. great reminder for sooooo many things. sheesh. I'm one of those baby faced ones too, getting called "honey" all the time and asking if my "mom is at home!" by the plumber....yeah. xoxo

Kate said...

After I hady first daughter my mother and I were shopping. A nosey old women kept calling my daughter my little sister and referring to my mother as her mom.
Annoyed I said "this is my daughter"
She started in on poor life choices, Jesus etc.etc.
I was embarrassed and mortified.
My annoyed mother replied with Judge away you misguided individual. She is 27, married, successful and a true Christian... I think you need to study the Bible you preach so much!
When we left the mall to eat we got the pleasure of running into this lady again at lunch. She couldn't let it go and informed me that I should wear a wedding ring if I was "really married"
My mother was annoyed and ripped into the lady!
Some people I swear!

Not Before my Tea said...

This is awesome. And I mean in every way… really well-written but also really thought provoking! I’m “Christian” in that I was baptized Catholic and went to Catholic school, but I’ve had a really hard time with faith (my boyfriend, on the other hand, is very much a believer and more of a Christian than I ever was). One of the things that turns me off most about a lot of religions (and not just Christian ones) is just what you’re describing: it feels more like a set of rules, judgment, pride, etc. but hardly any real love and/or understanding. That’s not to say that that is true for every religious/spiritual person I know… probably not even the majority… but it is definitely there. It’s really nice to hear someone like you (who sounds like a pretty sincere Christian) acknowledge that it’s out there and point out that not everyone’s like that!

Whew that was long. Sorry. PS – That woman sounds like an idiot, Christian or not.

Danielle said...

Wow! I can't believe you had the restraint not to slap her! ...you are right though, I think Christian turn nonbelievers away from Christianity more than anything else.

I have some good pregnancy stories like this, but yours definitely takes the cake! So sorry you had to go through that... mean old lady. I hope she felt terrible afterwards lol.

Sam said...

What a nut! Christian or not, she shouldn't be placing judgment on you like that. She clearly needs social skills if she can't take a joke.

Lindsay said...

THIS POST IS MY FAVORITE EVER.

Only because this was my life when I was pregnant. I'm short, and I look 12. My husband and I are the same age, only seven months apart, but he looks our age (28) and I look 12. Everyone thinks my 17 year old sister and I are friends when we're out together. When we first bought our house, my husband and I were shopping for appliances when the salesman told me that if I was lucky, my dad (!!!) would give me the new washing machine we were looking at when I moved out one day. My husband was offended, lol. I was seeing red!

Anyway, so yes. When I was pregnant, some woman in Hallmark came up and asked when I was due. I told her July. She said "oh, good, so you won't have to miss that much school, you poor dear."

Womp womp.

I had a barrage of other comments: "are your parents supportive?" "Here's a number for a life coach I know who can help." "Please, just LET me buy these onesies for you, it's the least I can do." "Is the baby's father in the picture?"

Hated it. HATED IT. Forget once my fingers were so swollen my rings couldn't fit anymore...so many looks of pity.

Leigh said...

I would have lost it on that woman if I was you! I am in the same boat as you...short, don't wear a lot of make up and look young...I have a feeling that I may get a few of those looks when I am pregnant too. Silly people!

Ashley said...

Shame on her!!! What was she thinking? I am amazed by the things that come out of people's mouths. If she was really a Christian, and honestly thought you were a pregnant teenager, she should've walked up to you and said... let me buy you a couple of packs of diapers and some wipes…or better yet, she should've minded her own business!

Sasha Savy said...

Oh my goodness! I can't believe someone did this or had the balls to say this. I would have socked her right in her frizzy head, LOL. People judge way to quickly -- and how is that Christian? I have NO idea!

Sorry you had to deal with a hobo wakco. ;)

Becky said...

Gosh reading this and the other comments! Some people can be so quick to judge and feel the need to say whatever's on their mind without any care in the world. My boyfriend's older sister looks young and when her little sister was born she was 14. She said everyone thought it was her kid and gave her such judgemental looks. Ugh people.

Rachel said...

It's not only a problem with Christians though. Get this--my Mom was 36 when she had my baby sister. 36!! She'd been married for 16 years and had a total of 7 children. A Buddhist Malaysian lady walked up to her while she was carrying my baby sister as an infant and started scolding her (actively scolding her!) for having a baby so young and out of wedlock. All my mom could do was laugh. I think maybe when you're 36 and have 16 years of marriage and 7 children you find it a little easier to laugh at the total absurdity of the situation. I think this is a great lesson in not making assumptions.

Kaity said...

First of all, I can't even believe the nerve of that woman! I'm infuriated for you! Second of all, you are so right on the money about Christians. It completely boggles my mind how some people have so badly managed to pervert the loving teachings of Christ into a religion based on judgment, hate and cruelty. That's why I always say, I love Jesus but I'm not so crazy about Christians.

The Lady Okie said...

Reading these comments has been interesting. To be honest, some of this is all a little sad. A few commenters have said they feel like they don't need church to have faith. I wish there weren't people like this lady at target to act judge mental and turn people off toward Christians, but like you I know I am guilty of this too. We all need to do better at loving the person, and there is a lot to be said for witnessing through your actions. On a other note, I'm pretty sure I look like a homeless person when I go to the store. Whatever, people!

Rita Korkounian said...

How dare that lady hurt my Jena!!!! Sometimes people assume, think out loud, and have no sensor whatsoever. And god knows what kinda day she was having for her to put it out on you. Or maybe she's bitter about her past and just projecting those feelings on you. Who knows. But Jena....Bravo to you! You handled the situation with a lot of grace! I would've either snapped or just walked away and cried on my drive home lol. You know...the fact that you didn't react probably made her feel worse about what she did. Take it easy darlin:)!

Rita Korkounian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa // 53Blonde said...

You have so much more grace than I could ever hope to possess in a situation like this. I can't even imagine what my reaction would have been! Good for you for reacting as you did - I can't imagine how that must have felt.

Lauren said...

i have no idea how you stood there and didn't just spout something back--I probably would have been the same way though because I would have been either too dense to understand what she was implying or I would have been trying to figure out the most gracious way to lift my chin up from being on the floor!

Some people seriously NEVER cease to amaze me!

Allison said...

Wow. This is crazy talk. I can't believe this woman. If she wanted to show God's love to you (a knocked up teen, haha) then she should have just bought your diapers for you right? Oh my word. Shut up is just about all you can say.

Megan said...

Oh my word! I wouldve smacked her so hard!

Sarah Smith said...

I'd like to think she had good intentions but like you said, you just never know and she should have kept her mouth shut. I've never been pregnant, but I get the "age" concerns all the time! When I walked in and interviewed for the job I have now, the superintendent asked me, "You do know you have to have a college degree for this job? We don't accept high school students." Facepalm!

Jennie Grange said...

Jena! I'm finally getting around to reading this blog post and on my goodness. I'm so sorry. Some people think they just know everything. You handle the situation completely well. I probably would have screamed at her. Ha ha your such a sweet gal and you're the cutest prego lady around. Xoxo

Nicole said...

Here's a good one I experiences last week. I was sitting on a bench at a little mini-mall in our town doing something for work. This 40-something year old guy walks up and says "So you're having a baby huh? Well, better not be the anti-Christ or I'll be mad!" Ummm....speechless.

Lauren said...

Ugggggh. I'm so sorry. You are more poised than me because I would have LET. HER. HAVE. IT. Some people just do not think.

Elle Vee said...

:( I'm sorry people are so quick to judge!

It's either a laugh or cry situation, choose to laugh... You know who you are and that you are married and 24!

Unfortunately the world is full or people who judge unnecessarily.

Andrea @ Love is... said...

Oh. My. Word. There are no words for how inappropriate that was of her.

Jena said...

Oh my gosh, I can't believe someone would have the audacity to speak to you like that?! What in the world.

My name is also Jena, and I'm also pregnant (I'm 28) - I have to say that I don't get approached by strangers in regards to my pregnancy. I've perfected my bitch face, so people pretty much leave me alone when I'm out in public.

I don't know what I would have done in your situation. I'm totally non-confrontational; especially with wackadoos!