Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are the differences so different?

This last weekend on Saturday, I ended up in a car with a woman from church who I don't really like. We had a pioneer-centered primary activity at someone's farm, and I had to catch a ride to get out to the farm. The drive was an hour or so, and I regretted riding with the woman. She may be well-respected at the church, but she has never been kind to me.

Sometimes I tell myself that I need to get over my dislike for people. Sometimes people may seem like they're not very nice, but when you get to know them you see something else. With that in mind, I tried making conversation with this woman. I started by asking her a few questions about her life but found that she didn't seem to want to talk about herself. So I decided to tell her a little about my life in the hopes that we could find some common ground.

She wanted to know why I wasn't "working," so I started to talk about it. I said that when I was babysitting during the summer, Paul really hated it. He hated going days without seeing me, I said, and so maybe it was--

At this point, the woman cut me off to say sharply that my husband was just going to have to "suck it up" and get used to the idea that life isn't fair and he couldn't have every little thing he wanted. It was so harsh, so judgemental, that I just stopped talking. I couldn't believe it. The woman hadn't given me time to explain any of the circumstances, such as the fact that the family I was babysitting for moved away, or the fact that I get sick frequently and have an incredibly hard time holding down a regular job. (Forget the fact that I was babysitting from morning to night so that I went four days at a time without spending a minute with my husband. Don't mention Paul's new job which had full time hours for a while.) All of the factors loom so huge in my mind, factors that explain why I am attempting to write for a living, and how this is the best course that I can take for my own life right now. She didn't give me a chance to explain about the writing at all.

I was thinking as I endured the last several minutes in the car that everyone's family is different. Everyone's circumstances are unique. And everyone's marriage is its own entity. Perhaps some people don't mind at all if they don't get to see their spouse for weeks at a time. Maybe time together isn't as important to others as it is to us. Maybe this woman's life has gone so differently than mine that she cannot even understand where I am right now.

But I tend to think that it is possible for people to relate to each other, even if one has six kids and the other is without children and going to school. Do factors such as age and family situation really matter when it comes down to it? I think every opportunity that we have to spend time with other people is a chance to show kindness, a chance to exercise charity. I don't ever want to be the person who treats someone the way that this woman treated me. I want to be the one who listens and cares and doesn't judge.

I may never know the factors that led that person to be where she is.