Every single person we ever meet is going to hurt us.

Get over it.

The truth is that we all play games.The problem is no one ever wins.

I have 2 daughters who are 11 months apart in age, and are the best of friends. Naturally, they know how to press each other’s buttons. The younger of the 2 has this ridiculous sheet of poster board hung in her room with her sister’s name written on the upper left hand corner.

Directly to the right of her name are tally marks.

A few nights ago, I stumbled upon a hysterical 13 year old spilled in front of the doorway to her little sister’s room.

Imagine 2 shrieking cats in some sort of squabble complete with hissing and hair particles flying through the air.

Disaster.

I stepped over her mindlessly deciding if the sound was more giggle or scream. Hard to tell when your daily consists of Mommin’ of 4.

Apparently, the younger sister was manipulating her older sister’s need for perfection by revealing Tahli’s Achilles heel.

An affliction previously unknown.

For the past few days, I had begun to question why J’s eyes glinted with happiness whenever Tahli got scolded or reprimanded followed by a race to Jordyn’s room ending with a slam of the door echoed in a revengeful soul satisfying giggle interrupted by the shriek of failure.

3rd place.

The green ribbon.

J had found her sisters weakness.

J found power.

My oldest daughter couldn’t take the imperfections that soiled the daily of her humanness.

She broke that night; the night I stepped over her mindlessly. Curled up spilling defenses and vulnerabilities in the hallway just ripe for the taking. Her little sister delighted over this new power she had found.

The game she was writing the rule book.

It occurred to me that my daughter’s struggle with the fear of rejection is a portrait of how all of us approach our living. We idolize rejection and make unforgiveness into a verb.

We run from disapproval, wrong, and redo.

We play games no one can win.

We cannot stand a visible Scarlet Letter …

We lie, hide, justify and blame our tally marks away.

It occurred to me that we begin keeping tallies of everyone we ever meet. And at some point we make the last mark without telling them.

We never say the words, but we all know what is not said.

We all silently keep tally marks on every person in our life and when they get so many, we begin to build up bitter and resentment that eventually destroys both of us.

But here’s the thing, no one is perfect. Everyone we ever meet is going to hurt us and disappoint us. It’s true. And once you realize it- the truth paves your way to freedom.

My takeaway to begin living a life deserving of the change the world needs to see is simply going forward and accepting this as truth.

There is grace when you realize it’s going to happen and there’s no reason to keep track. There is freedom when you live the verb of grace.

Knowledge and truth releases us from the toxins left behind by people we did not realize hurt us. When we pretend they didn’t hurt us, the root of unforgiveness becomes a toxin that destroys.

It’s ok. We’re all flawed. We all have marks. And once we toss the marker, we begin to unlock our ability to respond in love and grace.

Then … We begin to live.

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