I met a man, who I did not care for.
And then one day, this man gave me a call.
We sat and talked about things on our minds.
And now this man, he is a friend of mine.
-Friends and Lovers
Reach Out Of The Darkness lyrics
Hearing this song being played on the radio the other day was such a flash back - not only to the flower-power era, (groovy man!) but also to a time when this exact scenario was played out in my own life.
There was a woman I had occasion to meet through association with other friends. In the first 5 minutes of our introduction, I'd already packaged her up, tied her with a bow, and and tagged her as "annoying." Each time after, when I had cause to be in her company, I paid no real attention to what she said because she'd already been categorized and filed so why engage?
Then, as fate would have it, I was forced by circumstances to have to deal with her one on one. What an eyeopener that turned out to be. Not only was she NOT annoying, but as it turned out she was intelligent, articulate, considerate, and kind. A long and enduring friendship developed and to this day I count this woman as one of my most cherished friends.
How unfortunate it would have been if I'd never been given another chance to reevaluate my abrupt judgment. How many wonderful conversations and associations I would have missed out on! She's been a confidante, cheerleader, and coach to me for all of these many years. The things I've learned by her example are priceless treasures.
Why, you might ask did I judge her so harshly at first? What was it about her that caused me to label her as annoying? I could answer those questions, but only from the standpoint of the things I told myself to make it OK for me to judge and label her. The truth is, it wouldn't have mattered what she said or did that first day. My labeling and judging had more to do with how I showed up to our introduction than anything she said or did.
The right question to ask would be: "What was it about YOU that caused YOU to judge her so harshly at your first meeting?"
Looking back on it, I think I instantly resented that she was the new kid on the block and she was getting attention from people that I was already familiar with and comfortable being around. (Those are few and far between for my introverted self.) She was an interloper from the get go. I think I was determined not to like her for those reasons alone. All I needed from that point on was to gather evidence to support that decision.
"Seek and ye shall find." It works for everything. Once I decided to look for reasons not to like her they lined up like obedient little soldiers. It's always that way. We can find evidence to support any position we choose to take on any subject at all. We just rational-lies it till it feels cozy. Yes, I said rational-lies. Maybe you've never seen it written like that before but I'm spelling it like it is. We tell ourselves rational sounding lies to make ourselves feel good about doing all sorts of lousy things. Maybe if we just changed the spelling we might not be so inclined to do it.
Why do we ever instantly judge anyone? Ever noticed how if we get distracted and make a traffic blunder we just "made a mistake" and are totallly bewildered at the angry rebukes from our fellow drivers - but if someone else does it - they're an idiot? It all comes down to extending the same mercy to others that we hope to be shown ourselves.
How much kinder of a world would it be if we would only start by assuming the best intentions instead of the worst? Can you imagine the ripple effect that would be set in motion if we worried less about sizing each other up and more about building each other up?
My hope in sharing this story with you is that it might cause you hit "pause" before passing sentence on someone who wanders into your life. Consider how you are showing up. What baggage are you dragging with you that might cloud the lenses your looking through? What if the person that you wrap up, tie with a bow and label with some unsavory title then heap on the discard pile is the one person that was put in your life to change it forever?
I'm thankful for the opportunity to have had a do-over in this situation. This one association has blessed my life in countless ways. I can't help wondering how many more I might have missed...and that is NOT groovy!
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