So, I love singing, and I've received a fair amount of positive feedback for that singing. Which is probably why my I can look at my experience in ward choir this morning with a certain amount of detachment.
When I showed up, I was the only soprano (amazingly, I'd shown up on time!). Shortly after, though, another woman, older and with a voice she's very proud of, joined the group. When she came in, she sat as far away from me as she could, which seemed a little odd since when you're singing you typically want to be close together so you can hear one another. At the same time, since Sylvia was with me, I could kind of understand--she's a good kid, but she's also at a rambunctious age. Anyway, This older woman (who I'll call "NW") complained about her lack of voice due to a cold several times during choir rehearsal, apologizing to the director and just singing as best she could.
So, toward the end of rehearsal a couple more women showed up--a mother and daughter. The mom's an alto, and the daughter is a soprano. When the daughter joined us in the soprano row, NW said, "Finally, someone with a voice is here."
I hate compliments that come at another persons' expense. I just wanted to say to here, "I'm sitting right here, and I can hear you!" but of course, I held my tongue. I contemplated leaving, but decided I was there because I love singing, I love joining my voice with others in songs of praise, and I don't care if my voice is the best and most amazing. It's mine and I love to use it to sing.
But I hate how small I felt for those few minutes after NW said what she did. I hate how easy it is for someone to get under my skin and make me feel worthless, less than I am. Today's experience reminded me of something from a friend's wedding where I was a bridesmaid. She had three bridesmaids, one rather tall (and standing in the middle of the group), the other two of us fairly short. This older woman came up to the three of us and said to the tall one, "you are a rose among thorns." I had the same feeling of being small, of somehow not measuring up. It's crazy that some cranky, unpleasant old bat has that much power, that I allow someone I don't know to have that much power over how I feel. It's crazy those stupid stings stay with me so long. I think not knowing these women makes their comments seem all the more real--after all, they're not friends, so presumably their opinions are untainted by a desire to preserve that friendship leaving them free to speak the truth, right? Right?