Monday, January 13, 2014

The Best in People

While it does go against my belief that the joy of complaining is why God lets us suffer in life, I've been engaged in an interesting thought experiment.

What if we could look at our family and friends, and only see the good memories, and let go of all the bad?

I pick good family and close friends, so it's not like there's anything huge ruining our relationships, but it seems most every relationship has little annoyances or dark spots.

Yeah, I said I pick good family. "That makes no sense," you say? Well you're just saying that because you picked such a lame family.

Anyway, to clarify this idea about forgetting the problems, I'm not saying that if your lunatic brother threatens to kill you the next time he sees you, you should forget it, and invite yourself over for tea. I'm talking a bit more about issues that are clearly in the past or more minor issues in the present, like if someone forgot your birthday, they complain about your cooking (can you blame them?), they don't answer your emails, they don't show interest in some of your favorite things, or things like that.

If something is solidly in the past it could be a big issue, and you can still forget it, like the time your brother lit your hamster on fire (how could he do that?!?). Let it go. Also you can forget things on your own side. Forget the worries about being misunderstood, forget the embarrassing moments of the past, and don't worry about how much they like you.

Doing this, focusing on the kindness, the fun, the beauty of the person and your relationship with them, and removing the dark spots from the picture, I think you can find a greater happiness in your relationships, and love your friends and family more fully.

I even wonder if we might discover some hidden treasures this way. Maybe we'll see the people who might not have been the easiest or most exciting friends, and realize how much love they showed us while we weren't paying attention.

As for my actual experience, so far my results are mixed. I kind of do this by default with my wife. Next, I find it easier with my family and close friends, where there are lots of good memories and displays of love to draw upon. I've had moments of realization that friends were not just good friends, but great and wonderful friends. Other friends and acquaintances I'm finding that the kindness-to-difficulty ratio is still a more major factor.

But even if we still have difficulty loving, it doesn't hurt to prayerfully work with God to look at people with greater love. Remember, just as our love for God helps us love people, our love for people also helps us to love God.

This is part of why most of us are not called to be hermits. Most of us are supposed to be spending time enjoying the company of our family and friends, as well as touching the lives of others beyond our circle.

And if we are doing this with greater focus on what is right with the person, perhaps we'll love them a bit more, and we will all grow a little closer to God just being near each other.

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