Names given below are pseudonyms.
I had coffee recently with my friend Frances. We were talking about the struggle all of us encounter at times when people fail to understand us. Frances then shared with me a beautiful image God planted in her mind regarding this difficulty.
Imagine you own the house of your dreams, whether it be a mountain cabin, a city apartment, a beach house, or an English manor. Inside, it’s all beautifully decorated just to your liking. Some visitors come, and you eagerly welcome them to your home.
The visitors haven’t even removed coats before they start criticizing everything. They don’t like the color of the paint. Your front room is too cluttered with knickknacks. The plush carpet or tiled floor is not what they would have chosen.
You’d be insulted. How can they speak like that? How can they not appreciate the unique beauty of your home and the welcome you’ve given them?
It’s the same with us. God doesn’t like it when people criticize us and make no effort to understand who we are in our essence. I could tell you all about Frances’ shortcomings and defects. But I don’t. To do so misses the point of why I love, like, and appreciate her.
First and foremost, Frances is a child of God. That alone bestows upon her an inherent dignity and worth. Beyond that, though, she’s a beautiful soul. She is gentle and kind. She is open-minded, always taking into account other people’s perspectives. She is contemplative. She’s also quirky—she is equally at home wearing a ball gown and a motorcycle outfit.
I shared what Frances told me with another friend. Edith shared with me another beautiful observation a college professor of hers had made. The professor remarked on how we’ll spend hours studying the Pieta. If we can find so much to contemplate in a piece of carved marble, how can we be so hasty in our evaluations of souls?
Everyone has failings and defects they need to overcome. But when looking at others, we should keep our focus on their good qualities and encourage those.
Let’s take time this summer to contemplate the good in others. In doing so, we will be drawn closer to God. As Frances once remarked to me, “to see the good [in others] is to see God.”
August 1, 2022: I just came across the below video which touches on the same general theme as this blog post.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.