During the spring of my junior year in high school, some girls suggested we practice for the junior-senior basketball game, and I thought it might be fun, so I tagged along. I did poorly in practice, more focused on my friends than on the game; but despite getting on the nerves of some of the more competitive players, I decided that I would go through with what was going to be my one and only basketball game.
Throughout the match, the seniors consistently held the lead, while my teammates were struggling. I had passed the ball a couple of times like a hot potato, happy to get it out of my hands as quickly as possible. Until…
On a flight I took some months ago, there was a little girl sitting in the catty-cornered seat from me. She had a beautiful new coloring book that her mother had obviously brought especially for the flight. Occupying the same row was another girl about the same age whose father was seated behind her. This girl had no coloring book, and in fact, didn’t seem to have anything to occupy her.
The girl with the coloring book was soon busily coloring with her crayons spread out on the tray table, and the other girl was looking longingly at them. I felt bad for the girl who had none, so I prayed that the first child would feel moved to tear out a page from her nice coloring book and share it. Sure enough, after a while I saw that she had indeed torn a page out and had given it to her seatmate and was sharing her crayons with her.
There are some people that we like more than others; and let's face it, some people like us more than other people do.
When I worked as a nurse in the emergency room of a hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland, I was quite self-assured and felt I could deal with pretty much any situation. I liked the action, the adrenaline rush, and always volunteered for the toughest cases.
We used to get some of the same patients over and over again—alcoholics, drug abusers, derelicts. I was young and I didn’t mind them. Some of them were actually nice, funny, lonely guys who simply needed a warm bed and were genuinely sorry for making a mess of their lives. They would usually be on their best behavior if they were treated with care.
With no other employment options at the time, my situation was not a happy one. My boss was making my life miserable. He was self-centered, ill-mannered, and crude; yet, like the clueless manager in the TV series The Office, he seemed to fancy himself everyone’s best friend. Whenever I tried to explain the things that disturbed me, he would listen attentively and thank me, but then he would go on as before, without even a token change in his behavior. I lodged a complaint with his supervisor, but still nothing changed.
It seemed I was doomed to work indefinitely in that stressful atmosphere with no control over incidents that ranged from mildly annoying to outrageous. One of the latter finally drove me to desperation. There was nothing I could do about the situation, but my anger was about to destroy me if I didn’t figure out how to manage it.
In my childhood farmyard in Pleasant Hill, New York, we always had an abundance of chickens roaming around looking for worms and bugs, scratching the ground for seeds, and generally living an easygoing, happy life. That’s one reason why, in spite of a modest food budget, I still always buy free-range eggs. I believe that happy chickens create better eggs.
One thing I noticed at an early age was that there is a definite pecking order among chickens. Most chickens are social, humble creatures that mind their own business. But some chickens run around puffing out their chests, lording it over the other chickens … and plucking their tail feathers.
Life is a series of judgment calls, big and small. “Is my colleague telling me the truth?” “Can I believe this advertiser’s claims?” Nearly every day you have to pass judgment on some situation, and your opinions and decisions often have consequences for the other people involved. The stakes may not be as high or the judgment as final, but like a magistrate in the judicial system, your judgment matters.
I once told My critics, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”1 What is righteous judgment? It is judging fairly and honestly, applying the right rule to that particular situation and sometimes looking beyond the facts to see the hearts and true intentions of those involved.
If you try to make your circle closed and exclusively yours, it never grows very much. Only a circle that has lots of room for anybody who needs it has enough spare space to hold any real magic.
—Zilpha Keatley Snyder (b. 1927), American children’s writer
If you approach each new person you meet in a spirit of adventure, you will find yourself endlessly fascinated by the new channels of thought and experience and personality that you encounter.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I once told My followers, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”1 So many problems would be solved if people would live by that simple rule. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do. When you do it—even when it’s to your own hurt at first—it eventually comes back to you in the form of more love and other good things in your own life. When you build your life and character on treating people the way you want to be treated, it’s inevitable that they will return the favor by treating you with respect and kindness. But it starts with you.
We could all stand to improve in our relations with others,and the Bible has lots of helpful counsel for us on that subject—how to work with others, how to treat them, and so on. It talks about patience, longsuffering, unselfishness, and giving. But it goes on to say that love is the most important thing. “The greatest of these is love.”1 Love is the most important ingredient in our relations with others.
I was submitting some legal paperwork,and to my dismay there were several discrepancies in my documents. Something that at first appeared easy to rectify instead took several weeks and numerous appointments to sort out.
At one of the offices where I had been sent, I came face to face with Olga. She struck me as efficient, but rather curt. We got off to a rough start. Mine was probably the hundredth problem she had had to deal with that day, and it seemed I would get no sympathy from her. To make matters worse, her computer froze and she had to reboot. She muttered that she was going to take an aspirin and would be back in a minute.