Have you ever become friends with someone that you never thought in a million years would be someone you could get along with? But, maybe, once you got to really know them they surprised you?
Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:
One of my best friends occasionally will let her kids ride in the car without being buckled in (this just happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves!). I would watch them leave church in their sweet van, kids unbuckled, and think, "Wow, she and I are nothing alike!" Over time, we became acquaintances, then friends, and now great friends.
I had a roommate in college who was always saying things that people took the wrong way. At first I was quite taken aback by what would come out of her mouth, especially when the comment was aimed at me. I never would have thought we'd become good friends, and that I would live with her again the next year--of my own choosing!
I think we've all probably come into contact with someone with an annoying laugh. I have. At first I kept my distance, and when we happened to be somewhere together I would try not to be funny (anything to spare my ears). Anyway, once I got to know this person, I hardly even noticed their laugh anymore.
So, the thing I've been thinking about is...why did these unlikely friendships happen? It may have taken a little time, but in each case the "issue" I had that might have kept these friendships from developing became a non-issue. Why??
Do you want to hear the conclusion I've come to? I think that the key to the development of these relationships was the fact that I was able (either by luck or circumstance) to put aside their characteristics that were annoying or offensive and get to know them as a person. A whole person.
Once that happened, I realized that each of these people had great things to offer, and because I recognized that, I was able to brush aside the things about them that I didn't agree with and just enjoy the attributes that make them great. They still might do those things I don't agree with, but it is such a small part of them that it just doesn't matter anymore. If I had continued to only focus on those things that bothered me, and not taken notice of the other good things about them, the friendships never would have happened. I would have really been missing out.
Not that I do a great job of this all of the time. I am sure I have missed out on many potentially valuable friendships because I failed to get past the surface and take a look at the whole picture. I always tell my kids that if we decide not to be friends with people who do something we don't agree with, that we won't have any friends.
(I'm not suggesting that we should go and and become chummy with our friendly neighborhood child molester or anything, but you know what I mean!)
All I'm saying is, I am trying to learn how to be more patient with others and try not to identify my feelings for them based on one behavior or habit that might bug me. I try to blow these things off and enjoy them for the good attributes they bring to the table. I am most certainly not perfect at this, but I'm trying to ignore the lid left off the toothpaste and just appreciate that the toilet seat is down.
I can only hope that people will do that for me.
I was blog surfing recently and came across this quote. I really liked it.
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind" --Dr. Seuss
I don't think it's saying that we shouldn't be mindful of others and their feelings or that we shouldn't strive to be better, but that the people who matter will love us anyway, as we make our way...because that is who we are.