[I]ntegrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. ~Chris Karcher,Relationships of Grace, 2003
Sunday night we came home to find a huge branch of our old cherry tree, which was loaded with cherries that were beginning to ripen, broken and barely hanging on. We think our Caesar must have jumped up and tugged on it trying to get himself a snack. He loves cherries! Jeff cut the branch the rest of the way down to not cause any further damage to the tree. When we really looked at the branch, we could see that it had been rotting from the inside out and was therefore weakened and how just a little "tug" could finally bring it down. This got me to thinking about how this can be a metaphor about life and how people can, through their actions, destroy families and organizations, along with lives by continuing to cause damage and spreading "rot" until someone or something breaks.
Our family has experienced this, as have our friends. This week we learned of a lawsuit filed in court to recall our mayor. We are friends with one of the parties that filed the lawsuit and also with the mayor and is wife. All three of them are good people. However, there are others, who from what I have gathered after reading the town council minutes, that have been stirring things up. One of those people appears to have a personal grudge against our mayor and has for years...this I know because of the things this person has said about our mayor. There is a term called "projection" when someone projects their own issues and what they either have done or are doing, onto others and uses them as a scapegoat. It is my opinion, that this, is in part, what is going on here. Some of the accusations are things that this particular person is guilty of themselves and ones that our mayor had to step in (with metaphorical muck boots because the $#!* was deep) and try to clean up when he was elected. It was a close race and he won by 2 votes. There were decisions made before our mayor took office, that are directly contributing to what is going on now. Instead of trying to be part of the solution and sitting down together to help our town out during a financial crisis, there are some people who are determined to tear this town apart. Let me also say this...our personal experiences with the mayor and his wife (who have become our good friends over the years), have been nothing but positive. When we first moved here, they threw a block party for all the new families moving into the neighborhood so that we could get to know one another and build a strong community. When we decided to homeschool our boys, the wife, who is a former high school English teacher, was so supportive and helped me design a great program for our boys. When my parents would come to visit, they would rent out one of their apartments to them for a few nights at a dirt cheap rate since we could not all fit in our tiny home. Later, as my parents and their friendship grew, they would not accept any money when my parents would come to stay. Our son Jaysn rented his first apartment from them and they were nothing but supportive and amazing landlords to him. He would take care of their place when they were gone on trips. When our water line broke twice, our mayor came up on his own time, and brought his personal backhoe, and helped us locate and dig up the broken line (that was down about 6 feet deep) and showed my husband how to fix it, saving us so much time and money. We tried to pay him for his time but he would not accept any money. We did bless him with homemade banana bread though. ;) Over the years we have shared the cherries from our tree with them and I have baked numerous loaves of bread for them...just because. They are very generous and giving people who have contributed to scholarships awarded to local kids and have been involved in numerous fund raisers. I think this is why it hurts so much...because they have given and given to a community that he grew up in and has been a part of for his whole life and she also has given so much to and loves, and then they are hit with this lawsuit to recall him. Now they have to hire a lawyer and fight it legally in court to have this case dismissed. This will cost them time and money and even if they win, because this story has been picked up and shared with newspapers as far away as Laredo Texas, his name has been dragged through the mud and his reputation has been forever sullied. My heart just hurts for them.
I understand all to well what they are feeling. We have been through this is our own lives with our fractured family situation and in the past with work situations. One of our sons is also going through this now. It is a matter of integrity. To have someone either come in an accuse you of something or try to undermine you and take credit for things that you have done is hurtful. It can cost you your job, as it did for me years ago and may now cost our friend. All we can do at this point is pray hard, be there for our friends and family, support them and stand up for what is right. In the long run, those that seek to destroy others slip up and are exposed for who they really are...unfortunately though, they leave a trail of broken lives behind them.