Thursday, April 14, 2011

That we may think people know us when they really don't

A few Sundays ago, I was asked to step out the front and share a snippet about my writing in front of my church congregation. Then after the service, a senior lady told me, "I've seen a brand new facet of your personality. I always thought you were staid and reserved but you show confidence when you're talking about the things that interest you. And you have a sense of humour."

Now, I've chatted with this lady for years and her comment amazed me. My passion for the things I care about and my sense of humour have always been integral to me so I assumed they ought to also be evident to others. I've relied on it to guide through me through difficult times. It's a friend that sometimes cheers me up, sometimes gets me into trouble and always keeps life spicy. For an acquaintance of mine to say they didn't know I had one was a bit of a blow. But the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that there are good implications in this situation.

1) When people don't like us, it's easy to grow despondent. We may have been snubbed or heard mean rumours about us. Our gut instinct is to think, I need to change. This may be a sign that I'm not the person I should be. Yet the truth, my friend, is that you may be every bit the person you should be, and although the person concerned thinks they are making an accurate judgment about you, they aren't really. They simply don't know you, in which case we can be freed from caring what they think. How liberating :)

2) It also extends to the snap judgments we make about other people. We may decide somebody is boring, snooty, brusque or whatever, but perhaps we don't really understand the myriad of private thoughts and fancies that whirl through their heads either. Freeing ourselves to give others the benefit of the doubt when we feel slighted, for example, and refusing to get offended, is a favour we can do ourselves.

After all, resentment and bitterness is a nasty, heavy load to carry. I'd rather assume that people's intentions are good than carry it.

We don't know others completely. Let's assume the best.

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