Maybe that lady at work who always seems so cranky and quick-tempered has an aging parent she's caring for that's stressing her out. Maybe that goofy guy who won't shut up at the library has no one else to talk to. Maybe the kid who's picking on your kid at school gets beaten every night when he comes home. I'm sure every single one of us can pinpoint at least one person who is a thorn in our side at times, but how many of us can say we seek to understand why? And furthermore, how many of us try to reach out to that person and get to know them better?
I'm as guilty as anyone when I say, "Yikes! Not me!" It's human nature to protect ourselves and stand up for ourselves when we've been wronged. But when we start to learn about who someone is, scars and all, something happens. We gain knowledge. We start to care more. Community is built and somehow, the things that drove you crazy don't bother you as much, or they start to not happen at all anymore, because instead of hurting and lashing out in anger, the other person softens . . . because now they feel known.
The famous philosopher G. I. Joe told us that "knowing is half the battle." I jest here, sure, but in reality, that's so true! The more you know about someone, the less likely you are to get angry at them over silly things, and the more grace you extend to them when those little things happen. So here's a little challenge I gave myself over Lent: get to know someone I can't stand. Who knows what might happen by Easter!
Who can you get to know a little better?