The last couple of years have been filled with tremendous growth. By which I mean I completely came undone and shattered and had to figure out which bits of me I wanted to keep and which ones were no longer serving me. Eight-years-ago Me doesn’t recognize Today Me, probably doesn’t like Today Me. That’s ok.
I’m still probably getting a lot of the being a decent (Christian) person wrong. That’s a topic for another post, however.
One of the things I like most about Today Me is my greater capacity for genuine compassion. I’m more likely to give “people” the befenit of the doubt and assign to them the most charitable motives I can believe.
Of course, it’s always hardest with the people closest to us and I’m still learning. Isn’t it strange that the people we hope give the most leeway for our choices are the often the ones we are least able to do the same with. Of course, we always want to believe the best in each other, but practicing that is a lot harder than wishing it. I’m no exception.
When I look around me, I find myself more and more and more believing in the idealism of voluntaryism because at its core, voluntaryism requires us to be the best versions of ourselves and to expect the same from others. When we expect to see good, I think we tend to, even if we “disagree” with people’s choices or opinions.
It is in that spirit that I offer this:
I believe you are doing your best. Aren’t we all? Don’t we all just take the bits of ourselves that we feel good about and the bits that aren’t ourselves but we wish were and put them out for the world to see?
Here’s the thing: authenticity is messy and it’s all we make it out to be. It’s ok to save face and honor the space you’re in and to have to learn how to balance being all you and not scaring people off. We’re all trying to figure it out.
I believe that when you leave the cart in the middle of a parking spot, instead of putting it in the cart return, you’re doing your best. Maybe that seems silly, but I used to judge people like you. Then I had two kids and dealt with chronic pain. Funny how perspective changes things.
I believe that when you cut me off in traffic, without a signal, putting your life and mine at risk, you’re doing your best. Maybe you’ve succumb to the lie of urgency and you’re texting while driving. That’s dumb and dangerous but that ones a hard lie to ignore.
Please know that when I’m less than gracious, when I flip you off and lean on my horn, it’s because my mommy instincts immediately think of my kids growing up without me and I haven’t yet learned to trust that they’ll be ok. I’m doing my best too.
When you talk loudly on your cell phone on the back of the bus and annoy everyone around me, I get it. This is maybe the only time you’ve got to talk to your sister who lives across the country and who is impossible to get a hold of. Sometimes I feel like that about my own family and I love 4 hours tops from any of them.
When you yell at my family at the restaurant because we’re ready to order and you just want to bring us drinks, I’m going to look around the restaurant and see how busy it is. You have no way of knowing how much hurry we’re in. I’ve been there. I’ve never yelled at a customer, but I’ve yelled at coworkers, supervisors, and employees. We’re all human and we don’t always manage to keep our big feelings inside. It’s a huge bummer when an outburst hurts another or ourselves.
When you insist for the 40 billionth time that I have to be Izzy and call you Jake and play the game your way, I’m going to take a huge, deep breath and decide if I’m going to play with you or teach you, in the gentlest way possible, that you don’t get to just demand everyone plays the way you want them to. Isn’t it amazing how we expect so much out of our littlest people? When we take a step back and remember they are always doing their best, it makes us expect better of ourselves in dealing with them.
When you say “yeah, I just couldn’t get it together to get that done,” I’m trying really hard to remember that you are doing your best. You’re not intentionally making my life difficult. What I’m expecting from you is hard.
When you tell me you’re not paid enough to do the job I expect you to do, I get it. When you’re rude to me at the store, I get it. When you talk down to me, I get it.
When you say I’d better vote for your candidate because the other guy is worse, I get it. When you tell me how dangerous refugees are, I get it. When you tell me how awful women are who get abortions are, I get it.
Every last one of us are living the stories we’ve been given. We’re not all ready or able to move beyond them, to be better and do differently. Even when we don’t buy the story we’re living, it still takes work, and a heckuva lot of it, to make our best today be less than our best tomorrow.
By responding with grace, instead of reminding you how much your “failures” make my life hard, I’m helping set you up for future success. By seeing the most charitable interpretations of you, I also feel like I’m setting me up for more success. It’s easier to be kinder to me when I’m not in the practice of passing judgement.
Dear everyone, I’ve got your back. Keep working on your best self.