If you’ve ever had parents or been a parent, had a child or been a child, been married or dated or had friends— you learn one thing mighty quick: people are complicated.
One minute I’m overcome with love for my family and the next I see an empty roll of toilet paper still on the roller, and I’m…well…let’s just say I’m feeling…other strong emotions.
When my pin has been pulled and all I want to do is react, it’s harder to remember all those warm, cozy, loving emotions.
Yup, people are complicated.
One of my friends from high school holds views that don’t always align with mine when it comes to any number of social, religious, or political issues. On more than one occasion I’ve wondered “why am I even friends with this person?”
Then I’ll run into her — She of the Different Views — and she’ll tell me about her latest animal escapade.
See, she’s also the person who, in the many years I’ve known her, has rescued many old dogs and given them new forever homes…at her house. She makes sure they can live out their lives with fluffy beds and lots of love.
She’s also the person who keeps milk replacer for kittens in stock at her house because “you just never know when you’ll need to feed a kitten.”
She’s the person who farms with her husband, tending the soil, determined to leave their corner of the earth better off than it was they arrived there.
So when she says things and I think “That’s totally loopy!” I remind myself that she’s SO MUCH MORE than this or that hairbrained idea.
Because people are complicated.
I’m a life coach, but really that’s a fancy way of saying “I’m a teacher.” At the beginning of my professional life, I spent a number of years teaching in the English department of a private, liberal arts college. Because I taught freshman literature and composition, I was inevitably in the position of giving some of my students the first B, C, D, or F they’d ever seen in their lives.
So while I always received very positive class evaluations, I also know that for some of my students, I was firmly cast in the role of villain that part of their life’s story.
And, always, always remember, that — like me — you, too, are the villain in someone’s life story.
Because people are complicated.
Today we live in a highly contentious world — turn on the television or pop onto social media and it’s easy to see.
Here in the state capitol of Missouri during the legislative session that just recently ended, I watched relationships become strained between friends who are on opposite sides of debates regarding abortion, right-to-work, and farming issues that were under discussion during the session.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe the best about one another when they see an important issue from such different perspectives. People struggle to maintain connections with friends who believe such different things.
But in the aftermath of the tornado that tore through Jefferson City last month, a different story has emerged. Instead of focusing on ways people are separated by their beliefs, this story is about people coming together in pursuit of a common goal, of people who stepped up to help one another in ways that have been inspiring.
So many people comment about how proud they are of the way this community has come together to help one another…and no one quizzed people in need about their stance on right-to-work before they all got to work cleaning up the mess the storm left behind.
My big take-away from this storm: people are complicated…but at the same time, we’re really simple.
Just because we disagree on some things doesn’t mean we disagree on everything. In fact we probably agree on a lot of very big things. So let’s start there building bridges…common ground can make for a good foundation.
Don’t wait for a tornado or flood to hit your town — build some bridges where and when you can, then when the road gets tough and the waters of disagreement rise, there’s a route back to one another.