Truly the most difficult thing about loving people is just understanding them. I don’t know about you but it is hard sometimes to figure people out. Take for example when you just don’t get along with someone. Have you ever met a person who from the first minute you just didn’t click with him/her? My next story deals with just that problem. And as I go through life I am always working on developing a better understanding of people different from me.
I worked with a woman whom I just didn’t get along with. She was very different in personality from me and we just couldn’t seem to hit it off. She would periodically get mad at me and not speak to me for days or weeks at a time. I would walk in and say good morning and she would say good morning and that was it for the rest of the day. It was like there was a frozen wall of ice between us. My friends would ask me how were things over on my side of the building and I would say, cold, very cold. An arctic weather front had descended upon our part of the office. Then suddenly things would get better. A warm spell would hit and we would be on speaking terms again. I just couldn’t understand what in the world I did or what I didn’t do to cause these arctic freezes.
And that is just one story of the many people I have encountered whom are difficult for me to understand. If I could just understand a little bit about how or why a person is acting a certain way I could react more positively. If I could know the motivation behind the action, then maybe I could avoid getting angry or frustrated. Today we understand the actions of prehistoric peoples. We know that they were not capable of the technological thinking of our times. So therefore we do not judge them as inferior. We understand that they did not possess the morals and ethics of modern people. And so we do not condemn them for acting in ways that we would never act. We understand that they are different from us.
And so understanding helps us to become accepting of other people. If I understand a person’s actions, I will be more likely to accept their behavior. I know a person who is mentally retarded, and I accept behavior from her that would offend me if another person would act this way. To me she is ok I love her because this is the way she is. And I believe that when we understand and tolerate other people, we will eventually learn to love them. The people I am closest to, my family, I love even when they are rude and insensitive. After all, I know them well and understand their shortcomings. And I also realize that I have plenty of shortcomings as well. And I know that my family understands and tolerates me because I know that they love me.
It is very hard to love someone I don’t get along with. And believe me, I have met plenty of people in this life whom I don’t see eye to eye. But developing a greater understanding of who they are and how they think and act and feel will help me to develop into a more loving and caring person. And that is my goal, to be more loving of others.
Rev. William Whitehead