I have a friend who I didn’t like for a long time. I had heard from this-person-who told-that-person-who-told-her-sister-who-told-her-hairdresser (or something like that) that she said something nasty about me. So ever since then, I held a grudge. She wasn’t aware of it. And through that grudge I was able to find things about her I didn’t like, that annoyed me, or that I thought were character defects.
I thought she played the victim card too often. I thought she was undisciplined. Lazy. Always taking and never giving. I tolerated her presence when I had to. Luckily it wasn’t often, so seeing and talking to her every now and then was manageable. I remember how I used to roll my eyes when I heard her name or knew she was going to be somewhere I was. I’m not proud of my…hmmm…judgments. But it was what it was.
Something shifted recently. I have no idea what it was or how it happened, but we suddenly got very close. The more I let down my guard and invited the possibility of getting to know her, the more I was able to see what a beautiful person she was—inside and out. She is now one of the coolest people I know. We even worked out that whole talking-about-me bit (turned out to be something small and stupid). I love that we’re friends and I think she is loads of fun and very kind.
This budding friendship has thrown a wrench into my judgments. It has forced me to question what I think is right and has softened my suspicions a bit. (Lord knows, I’ve grown alarmingly more suspicious of people in the past few years). It also humbled me. I realized that I limit things and people and opportunities not because of the limitations that may or may not exist, but because I stop believing. I stop wondering. I stop imagining.
Life is far more fun and rewarding when are open to ‘maybes’. When we entertain possibility. When we realize that our concrete perceptions, assumptions, and beliefs have more elasticity in them than we think they do. When we surrender to positive ‘what ifs.’ Like “What if I’m wrong and she really is a nice person?” or “What if I’m wrong and I really can do this?” or “What if I’m wrong and things really can get better?”
I don’t know about you. But I know I need to be more mindful of having great unexpectations. I love a good surprise and I found that God loves to give them. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” The Bible says, “You don’t have because you don’t ask.” Well, sometimes we don’t ask because we cannot imagine what to ask or because we are too scared to ask for what we would like to imagine.
I wonder what would happen if we lived with more flexibility and less rigidity, more acceptance and less walls, more wonder and less absolutes. I imagine the possibilities are endless. You might get a friend out of it. Or maybe a glimmer of hope in an odd place. Or maybe, just maybe, a miracle where you would have least expected it.