Last weekend I got to have the most fun doing something really strange – hating. Not real hating of course, but acting the part of the bad guy – not a role I usually play on the stage, and I hope very rarely in real life as well. But this was so much fun! “What is this Feeling?” from the musical Wicked, was not only great to sing, but physically showing “loathing” was probably easier than it should have been. LOL!
But the experience got me started thinking about the Ugly Stepsisters that I encounter. People who betray, lie, or act in monstrous ways. Folks who hate and attack with words or actions. I gotta tell you, I don’t get it. It’s not that I’m a flower child – just lovin’ everybody – but I don’t get the deep-seated emotions that lead to such harm. And despite the damage that these people do, I feel more sorry for them than I feel anything else.
Here are my three reasons for loving the Ugly Stepsisters:
- They have no clue what they’re doing.
They don’t realize that the extremity of the action they’re taking or the words they’re speaking can change lives, impacting the futures of all around them, especially themselves. The words spoken or the actions taken destroy. I’ve seen a total stranger cuss-out a grocery store clerk for closing his lane, even though he’d given plenty of notice and turned out the light and everything. I’ve had a student who was knocked off her chair for asking her dad a question at a time when his working world was crashing around him. I’ve even been told off for speaking words of comfort in a way that was misunderstood.
Ugly Stepsisters are so wrapped up in their own misery, they don’t realize the depth of destruction that occurs when they take their action or speak their words. Broken relationships can sometimes never be repaired, but that’s the least tragedy. Trust and self-esteem would take years of counseling to rebuild, if even possible. Even when a stranger is the receiver/victim of a tirade, the words tear, bruise, and crush, sometimes even causing a repeat of the behavior from the victim himself.
2. They don’t realize the root issue.
Most of the time, the Ugly Stepsisters aren’t ugly. Most of the time, they’re simply people who are under a great deal of pressure. So much so, that they justify their own reactions to that pressure. I’m not talking about murderers here. (Though there is that.)
- There’s the mom who yells at her son for his bad grade, maybe even calling him names, more because of the guilt she feels for not being home to help with his homework, or anything for that matter because she’s so busy at work.
- There’s the husband who has been bombarded with all sorts of failures at work who walks into his home ready for a fight and taking offense at every spoken word.
- There’s the student dealing with peer pressure, teacher scorn, and grade stress who takes a casual remark by a sibling or parent and starts a irrational shouting match.
- There’s the person who has been stepped on, betrayed, and deeply wounded enough to lash out at the slightest negative comment from a well-meaning friend, showering them with curses and attacks far beyond reason.
Do any of these people sound familiar? Surely all of us have said or done things we regret. In the examples, something drove each of the Uglies to their reactions. That doesn’t justify their behavior at all, but if we can realize that something bigger lies underneath, forgiveness can come easier.
3. They don’t know the big picture purpose behind their actions.
Some Christians discount spiritual warfare, but Paul makes the battle clear in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The struggle is real. And when we are the victims of Ugly Stepsisters, it’s likely because we’re doing something that the evil one doesn’t want to see continue. If he can distract or disillusion us, he can lesson our impact and chip away at the Lord’s kingdom.
If only for that reason, we have to love Ugly Stepsisters. (When we aren’t following the Lord closely, we can even become Ugly Stepsisters!) They are not the enemy. They’re just being used by the enemy. That deserves our pity, and most definitely our prayer, but not our disgust or hatred. A reaction such as that only makes the evil one more successful.
And none of us wants that!
Your turn: Have you recently encountered an Ugly Stepsister? Maybe you BEEN an Ugly Stepsister? What Truth did you learn from the experience?