In 1981 Barbara Mandrell recorded the song, “I Was Country, When Country Wasn’t Cool.” I kinda feel that way about #metoo. It would work…I was me-too, when me-too wasn’t cool. Well, you get the idea. I am about to be very politically incorrect but try to see the larger picture here. I was a little put out with “#metoo” phrase. Now, not the cause, not the solidarity, not the results. I don’t want to take anything away from the movement!
You see, the phrase “me too” has always held a broader connotation for me. By attaching it to one category, one movement it narrows and lessens the larger connection of community this phrase can hold. The phrase “me too” is what connects all humanity! Without that phrase, we are alone in our suffering, in our pain, and even in our laughter.
Several years ago I was working with Haven for Hope. It is a homeless shelter that offers an addiction recovery program. I facilitated spiritual wellness classes for men and women’s addiction recovery groups on a weekly basis. What I discovered forever changed my feeling of connection with what I consider the “greater community.”
Oh, I always held the belief that we are all children of God, we all are of the same worth and so on. But hearing and sharing stories, telling of dreams that fell short; beginning again at places one didn’t expect to be…we all have at least one of those stories! Yeah, me too. They are each unique and at the same time universal.
What was this great discovery? We are all the frickin’ same at an innate level and there is no hierarchy in compassion. I believe strongly that we are, every one of us, born a spiritual being. A spark of the Divine resides within all humanity. We may build a wall of hate or fear around it, ignore it, or sadly, forget it is there. We may also foster that spark, engage with the Divine, grow, moving closer to God, the Divine Spirit, and as a result with all creation.
Everyone has hopes, dreams, and ambitions! At some point we all carried “images” of what we would be, or might become. There are experiences that shape all of us; some quite unfair, even cruel; some we created by poor choices; some by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But the minute we crack open our soul the slightest bit and share the smallest pain or suffering, and in return the other says, yeah, me too. We are connected forever. You see it takes vulnerability and courage to open up, and the same courage and vulnerability to respond me too!
So, when I am in conversation and say, “me too,” whether out loud or in my heart, I am saying me too to something broader and deeper. I am with you in your suffering and pain. I am with you in laughter and joy. Sitting with an immigrant at a bus station, I clearly have not experienced their fear, their pain, their hopes. But I do knowfear, pain, and hope. I can sit with them in theirs.
No two hurts are the same. One who thinks that their suffering is unique, that no one hurts like they do or as bad as they do; or that no one has it as rough as they do, can miss out on compassionate connection. One can too often end up sitting within their suffering all alone. Pain and suffering feel lonely enough as is.
Have you ever watched a little child with an older adult? Walking slowly with them, gently touching them, recognizing their frailty? They are saying “me too.” We all long for connection, to be needed, to tell our stories, to not be alone.
There is a creed a church I used to attend recited from time to time. It is called “The United Church of Canada’s Affirmation of Faith.” The creed opens with the line, “We are not alone, we live in God’s world.” I always feel like I could stop right there! We live in a world where the Divine is present, always. Present in me, present in you, in ALL. That right there is the connection that initiates “me too.”
Allowing someone to hold your story is sacred. The act of listening to and holding another’s story is sacred! Each story is unique, and each story is the same. Pain is pain; betrayal is betrayal; fear is fear. It is not necessary to compare, or as odd as it may sound, compete. When someone shares their story, it is a gift of grace. When someone listens to your story, simply holds it in God’s presence, that too is a gift of grace. Compassion rises!