I have this subtle fear every time I go to a certain store, and it's not an unusual one.
I've run into a certain person there a few times, and I always leave the encounter feeling mad. I have the right to feel mad when I observe someone rolling their eyes when they spot me.
It's happened a few times. More than a few.
Once, it was with a Very Famous Person who I knew, and who saw me coming and the only empty chair in the whole restaurant was at her table. I saw her roll her big pretty eyes at her husband and then slap on a smile so fake it probably hurt.
I stood there in the middle of the completely full restaurant with my lunch tray and seriously tried, and failed, to find another seat.
Not gonna happen.
Her husband was sweet and kind, and when I asked if that seat was taken, he said it was saved just for me, and invited me to sit down. (Did I believe him? Yeahno.) She did take a while to warm up, and we did have a nice discussion. But, let's just say I'm not great pals with her. Why?
Because she doesn't like me and I feel all spleeny about that?
Oddly enough, no.
It's about trust.
If I can't trust someone to think and act kindly toward me when I'm not around them, why the heck would I give something personal, like my friendship, into their care?
So, back to the fear in the store...I saw this certain person and her very nice husband in the grocery section of a large store. It was one of those situations in which I started at one end and they started at another and we wove past each other aisle by aisle.
I saw them first, which is always fun, and then she saw me. Boom go her eyes, right up and then right down, and around and around.
I could tell she was peeved to see me, but because she's such a sweet lady with the reputation of gold and all that, she soldiered on and ohhhhh she toughed out a 2 minute conversation and smiled like there was a prize involved.
Now, I don't aim to be everyone's friend, but I do TRY and be kind.
But there was almost zero trying going on for her. So what did I do after we chatted all nicey-nicey for a bit?
Every aisle that we crossed paths, I was as sincerely kind as I could be. I refused to give anyone any ammunition to do the "can you believe her??" rant in the car on the way home.
Look, everyone gossips- or discusses or mentions or shares or whatever you choose to call it- about other people.
With me? People usually know where they stand. If they don't? Then they haven't had a long conversation with me, and we probably aren't close pals.
And no, I won't sit here and declare that I like everyone I meet, because I don't.
Surprised? Don't be. I'm keeping it real, people.
But, if someone asks me for the truth, and they'll get it, but as diplomatically as possible.
I am polite 99% of the time.
Don't be here for that 1%, it won't be pretty.
As try as I might, I won't always deliver the answer or reaction that is expected or wanted by the person or people from whom the request was given.
Not everyone gets along. But I will not enable the manufacturing of gossip toward me by giving someone less than the best of me during a conversation of an encounter in which my mettle is tested.
So, back to the eye-rolling darlings...
And no, I will not be saying anyone's name, because that's not only unkind, it's downright stupid.
As for them? They can go right ahead and roll their eyes at me, or stick their purse on the empty chair next to them, or turn away when they see me coming.
Go right ahead, people, because if they're going to be like that? I kind of don't think they deserve my friendship anyway.
If we are emotionally and intellectually stable individuals, if our primary important relationships are also emotionally healthy, and we know we are loved by those who are most significant to us, then we should be fine to let the cloudy people can go somewhere else and stew in their grey doom.
It's important to have well-established boundaries in our lives, so that when we encounter heavy-duty emotional entanglements, we are prepared to deal with them as adults.
So, when I get a dose of "ohhh, there's Jennifer..." and it's not a thrilled response? I remind myself that their problem with me, is their problem.
In that same vein, if I find myself disliking someone, I do my best to be polite anyway. Why? Because my problem with them is mine.
Whether or not someone else believes what we believe, our duty is to reflect the goodness shown to us and be examples of goodness, kindness, intelligence, joy and maturity.
*WE* are not called to save the world, but we are called to point the way.
Who taught me that? Someone who doesn't even like me, but that wisdom is still valid.
As hard as it is, in terms of pride, to attribute such wisdom to someone who isn't exactly my friend, or much as outside forces try and twist what we know to be true, and as much as we struggle over the hard things, true wisdom will always be valid.
And the truest truth, and the hardest hard thing, and most problematic of all the problems?
Love one another as I have loved you.