I had a dream—not exactly the kind Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about, but still, for me, a pretty important dream. It was simple. I saw a picture of a ball of variegated yarn, and heard a message: This is how people are. This is why your friends are so different from each other, and why sometimes they drive you crazy, but you still love them.
And that was it. The big round ball was wrapped in many colors, and some with no color at all. I understood to the message immediately because I’d been thinking a lot about friendship. The dream reminded me that we are neither all good nor all bad, but a combination of all qualities.
My friends can be:
loving, compassionate, joyful, light, genuine, and considerate.
but they can also be:
angry, sad, mean, gossipy, and critical.
and yet they are:
filled with hope, faith and gratitude, with graciousness, fully accepting, and forgiving.
but at the same time:
spoiled, selfish and frauds.
In the past (more than I’d like to admit), I was quick to throw people away for having some of the faults I could not tolerate. And yes, I know that some people are REALLY not good for us—we are better off to bless them and send them far away. Yet, hold on. Are there exceptions to my throw away “rule”?
Yes. And just as the old saying goes: “When you point your finger at someone, you’ve got three pointed back at yourself.”
And isn’t that the truth. We’ve heard it so much, we don’t even hear its meaning anymore. But when I look honestly at myself (sometimes with my fingers shielding my eyes, so it doesn’t hurt so much) I see that I’m just like my friends. In fact, the ugliest qualities I hold are reflected in my friends, but I cleverly disguise them as my pet peeves. Ouch.
So it turns out, I am also included in the content of my dream. Forgiving and having compassion for myself leads to the same for my friends and vice versa. And that bridges the gap between happiness and discernment. I now make a conscious effort to look at my friends. When I see their character flaws, I think: I see this thing in you that I don’t like, but I love you anyway.
Understanding this contradiction makes me want to have a conversation with Mr. Rogers. I can just imagine his smile as he focuses his complete attention on me, saying, “I like you just the way you are.” I want be like Mr. Rogers.
During this Holiday Season, may the thoughts we wrap around ourselves and others carry this level of compassion.