As I was driving today, I was mindlessly flipping through the radio stations and I stumbled upon the song “Harper Valley PTA.” I knew I had heard the song before, but it had been a while. I missed the first part of it, but tuned in just to hear the words, ‘they were surprised when Miss Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room.’
I continued to listen to the song and the lyrics and noted that the song was from the ’60s. (I love it when Sirius tells me when the song came out.) It occurred to me that the lyrics describing the situation then aren’t too different from situations nowadays.
I was intrigued enough about the full song to Google the lyrics. Here is what I found:
I wanna tell you all a story ’bout a Harper Valley widowed wife,
Who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High,
Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn’t even stop to play,
And she said, “Mom I got a note here from the Harper Valley PTA.”
Well the note said, “Mrs. Johnson, you’re wearing your dresses way too high.
It’s reported you’ve been drinkin’ and runnin’ round with men and goin’ wild.
And we don’t believe you oughta be a bringin’ up your little girl this way.”
And it was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley PTA.
Well it happened that the PTA was gonna meet that very afternoon.
And they were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room.
And as she walked up to the black board, I still recall the words she had to say.
She said, “I’d like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley PTA.
Well, there’s Bobby Taylor sittin’ there, and seven times he’s asked me for a date.
And Mrs. Taylor seems to use alotta ice, whenever he’s away.
And Mr. Baker can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town?
And shouldn’t widow Jones be told to keep her window shades a pulled completely down.
Well Mr. Harper couldn’t be here cause he stayed too long at Kelly’s Bar again.
And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath you’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin.
And then you have the nerve to tell me, you think that as a mother I’m not fit.
Well this is just a little Peyton Place, and you’re all Harper Valley hypocrites.”
No, I wouldn’t put you on because, it really did happen just this way.
The day my momma socked it to, the Harper Valley PTA.
The day my momma socked it to, the Harper Valley PTA
And it got me thinking…isn’t this how we all can be? We can be more critical of others than ourselves. We can judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. We can ignore the plank in our own eye and focus on the sawdust in others’ eyes.
I’m not sure what it will take for us to take an honest look at ourselves…to look at ourselves in a spiritual mirror.
I hear this in my kids…I am guilty of this with my husband or my family…
When my son or daughter offends the other, I hear one say, “Well, that’s not what I meant,” and then the offended party retorts, “Well, that’s how it felt.”
See what they did? The offender measures their intent and the offended measures the offender’s actions.
We are all guilty of saying, “Well, look at Miss Johnson’s short mini-skirt, but pay no attention to the nip(s) of gin I’ve had.”
This may seem like an odd place to tie this in, but I’m struggling with the word God has for me for 2016. I’ve toyed with all of these: brave, courageous, still, peace, and now trust. While all of these are good in and of themselves, I can’t possibly try to focus on ALL of these for 2016. So, what about choosing one that encompasses them all?
It takes focus to be brave…it takes focus to be courageous…it takes focus to be still and have peace…it takes laser-like focus and intention to trust.
It takes focus to not judge others…but if I do slip into that old pattern, then it takes focus to look at their intentions and not always focusing on their actions.
See, a while back, I was reading “Love and Respect” by Doctor Emerson Eggerichs. One of the ideas he discusses in the book is to look at the other party’s intentions before reacting. The way he suggests doing this is to ask yourself if the offender has general ‘good will’ toward you. See, if I know that my husband generally wishes me well and doesn’t want to hurt me, then I can more rationally determine whether he meant to hurt me or not. Most times, his intention isn’t to hurt me, but there’s a general miscommunication happening based on our perceptions.
Merriam-Webster defines perception as: the way you think about or understand something or someone. Our perceptions are based largely on what has happened to us and how we have reacted to it. Two people can go through the exact same situation and handle it differently…because of their backgrounds and what they’ve been through in the past.
We are all unique and we all deserve the same grace.