January 6, 2012
everyone isn't everything
Over the years, I have been fortunate to know some really fabulous people. I have had truly great friends, each one different than the last. Zionsville friends. Collegiate friends. Cul-de-sac friends. 8th grade confirmation class friends. Lake friends. Sigma friends. Beze friends. Intro to Biblical Interpretation friends. Recovery friends. Church friends. Work friends. I've had all kinds of friends and I bet you have too. It's fun to look back on each of them, and what they brought to my life. It's a lovely gift.
Knowing all those people, maybe, like me, you've caught yourself trying to figure out why people are the way they are. Because people are not always peaches. Maybe my most consistent friend is not so very generous and my most generous friend is ever so slightly flaky. Perhaps the nicest person I know is not even a little bit funny. And my most fun friend might be the worst at consoling me when I'm sad. My most honest and genuine friend might also be the one whose words hurt the most often. No one is perfect. No one, I don't care if they are the best of all besties you have ever had in your life, is doing it all right.
The other day I caught myself internally criticizing someone I love dearly for doing a subpar job at something that I am already fully aware is just not their strength. I was right in the middle of being awful and something struck me: everyone isn't everything.
I can't expect them to be. I'm not, that's for certain, and even though I'm sure the people I am in relationships with sometimes get frustrated with me for who knows what all I do that's frustrating, they're still in relationships with me. They still show up to my birthday parties and take my phone calls and pick me up from the airport. Because on some level they have accepted that I am not everything. That everyone isn't.
And it's fine, it's all fine. I don't need everyone to be everything. And if I live a life in expectation that everyone will be everything - well, I think that will turn out to be a very lonely life for me. I think the best we can hope for is that we meet enough people who are things that we aren't that we can learn from them how to be that thing that they are, if even just a little. I think if we can do that, we don't have to be everything. We'll be us - limited, less-than-everything us - with just the faintest resemblance of everyone we've ever met. And that will be enough.
So instead of focusing on what people aren't, I vote we shift our eyes to what they are. I add caution in that we should not use this as an excuse to become complacent with the things we already are because I think we should learn to be a little more than we are. And on the other end of that spectrum, I vote we not allow ourselves to be treated recklessly; I hope we can recognize those who aren't interested in learning more and let go when the time comes. Because even though you aren't everything, you are you, and that is something worth protecting.
And most of all, let's be gracious to the ones who aren't everything, but who love us with everything they are just the same. Because those, I think, are the keepers.