Last Thursday afternoon I was leaving my birthday lunch at Pappasito's with all my co-workers when everyone stopped, pointed at a TV over the bar area and gasped. It showed a big silver balloon flying through the air and at the bottom of the screen it said that a little boy was inside. I was immediately traumatized by the thought that we were watching the last moments of a child's life on national television. It was horrible to think that it would probably end violently as he fell to his death or crashed into something. As a mother of a little boy, I wanted to throw up. I was so disturbed that I rushed out of the restaurant because I couldn't bear to watch it. I even forgot Annabeth, who was being held by my friend Michelle. Now, to find out that the kid's parents were allegedly lying and even making their children lie to the whole nation is infuriating. What a twisted thing to do. I'm obviously relieved that the child wasn't ever in physical danger, but now he lives with the knowledge that his parents are liars and frauds.
I usually tend to err on the side of compassion when people get into trouble. I have sinned so much in my life. How could I not have mercy? But emotionally traumatizing others for no reason? I struggle to have patience for that.
Once in college I met a girl my age who was claiming to have terminal cancer. She came down during the invitation time at Breakaway with her best friend, who was sobbing with grief. It was so sad. I was sucked into her lie for several weeks before a mutual friend broke the news to me that this girl was making it all up - with a shaved head and all! I was appalled by her accusation, but it turned out to be true. The thing that made me most angry was the image I had of her best friend's grief. What kind of person does that to their friend? Seriously.
Then of course there was the fake holocaust survivor who was exposed as a fraud late in the summer. I would not be allowed to write everything I'd like to say about what she did and how she eagerly invited us into her deception, but I'll tell you what sickened me the most. When I googled her name, I found that she had spoken to some middle school students in the past and shared her stories with them. They were even allowed to ask her questions. God only knows what kind of traumatizing things she told these children and what joy it probably gave her to see the tears in their eyes and their faces turn green - to have power over their thoughts and emotions. That disgusts me.
There is an overwhelming amount of traumatizing information in this world. Thank God I am not privy to all of it or I'd lose heart and die. The Lord created me with a compassionate heart, which is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard to feel so much. There are times when I get overloaded with sadness for other people and I can't pick myself up. Sometimes I'd like to trade it in and be a little harder. It would be easier.
All that to say, I am willing to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt. I generally love mercy. But I have no room, no compassion, no patience for people who seek attention for themselves by emotionally manipulating innocent people with their fake, traumatizing stories. Let me save my grief and compassion for those who truly do not know where their children are, who are truly suffering with cancer, and who have truly looked evil in the face and lived to tell about it.