I apologize for the lack of posts over the weekend. We had relatives from both sides of the family come into town, and we were living in the present, which was delightful. This weekend proved time to observe one of the lessons I had planned to write about. So without further ado--
Lesson 11 //Look for the Good in Others
Our baby has become shy recently; he will bury his head in my shoulder when he meets someone and then peek out and smile at him or her. It is adorable. But this shyness disappears after a few minutes and is replaced by curiosity and a desire to engage with others.
One thing I love about babies is their openness to new people. My son has no experience with loss or hurt. He instinctively trusts people. He sees each person as if for the first time. He gives and gives those smiles.
There is a little girl who lives near us. We often see her when she is out and about. From the first time I met her, she has been friendly and inquisitive. She wants to know about me. She wants to talk about herself and the world. I love her chatter and her openness.
I used to be more that way. I remember being friendly when I met someone. I remember believing the best. I remember the time before my cynicism caused me to question motives. I remember before I knew people could hurt.
One day I got tired of it all. Trying to make small talk felt suffocating. If I was friendly in the checkout line and the cashier wasn't, it seemed to affirm all of my experiences with people--that they were hurtful and that I was not good enough. So I stopped for a while. I hated the greeting part of church. I hated making eye contact. I was cold and distant and polite. People I loved hurt me in big ways. Now I tend to give people few chances. I am cynical. I withhold affection. I am slow to forgive. I too often look for the bad, question the motive.
I can learn a lot from the generous smiles and eager chatter of children. I can learn to show grace; I can learn how to give freely without expecting to receive. His tiny hands reach for a finger when he is being held. They play with an arm. He is open. He can meet someone I feel bitterness toward and smile.
One day he will find out that not everyone can be trusted. One day he will hurt someone. One day he will be hurt by someone else. And it will happen again. But I pray that instead of it hardening him like it hardens me, that he will keep a soft heart toward others. I pray that he will be wise and kept from harm, and I also pray that he will not cause harm and that he will be gentle.
There are people who are hurtful. There are people who are abusive. And we cannot be open with those people. But I can approach every relationship with open hands from the start. I can approach each relationship with both wisdom and love. I can soak in the love and grace others show to me. And I can give smiles, looking for nothing in return.