In a eulogy heard at a recent funeral I attended, the current pastor of the Church shared with us the number one character trait that he most admired in both the deceased and her husband. It was that they always found the good in others.
Knowing this couple well for over fifty years, I can attest to their skill. They led our Church community (as pastor and wife) for 55 years. Never sharing a bad word about anyone. Making everyone feel loved and respected even when others had differing points of view on parish issues than their own.
As I listened to this, it occurred to me that I would place “finding the good in others” on equal footing with the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Perhaps the first is even more powerful and necessary given our divisive world today.
As an adjective, one of the definitions of good, as defined on the internet, is: “Having the qualities that are desirable or distinguishing in a particular thing”. It’s the “distinguishing in a particular thing” within each of us that makes us unique and helps us discover the strengths each of us brings into this world to help make it better.
Finding the good in others is quite difficult to do. What makes someone unique, and where are their strengths? Differences are much easier to grab our attention. Similarities between us, when realized, are comforting. But finding the good in others is something quite different. It’s directed towards authenticity, and vulnerability, which makes a person who they are.
When finding the good in others, the door opens for us to connect without judgment. It’s not about focusing on similarities and differences. Look past their perceived faults to celebrate who the other person is instead of looking for what we want them to be. To do this you must push aside someone’s idiosyncrasies, biases, tendencies, and habits. Accepting them for who they are. Enjoying their presence without expectations or judgment.
Being human is messy but necessary for us to comprehend in order to find this magical process of expanding our lives through others. Through expression & acceptance of who they are when meeting them. Finding the good in others gives us a clear pathway to connect and build bridges. Regardless of how we are treated at times. No matter what the circumstance, sometimes we must look past a heated moment to find a path to reconciliation.
This process of human connection can energize our life. Finding the good in others forms the basis for longer-term meaningful relationships for both. Chasing loneliness away. Bringing new thoughts, ideas, laughter, and tears into our life. Giving us more and more chances to help others and learn from others. Pushing aside the emptiness of our digital world, our narrow-minded focus on differences, and our insistence on being right to feel life’s ebbs and flows.
To see ourselves as part of the humanity we experience is messy. It requires us to essentially put aside who we are so that we can focus attentively on who the other person is. Making them feel special. Helping them open up so that they can become engaged.
Giving both a chance to enjoy what’s good in each other. Making our world a better place because we took the time to find & meet the good in each other. Making this valuable and necessary to do each day of our lives. For these are the moments when we can learn the most. Creating times meant to be cherished.