I had an experience recently with going to a family event. I wasn't really looking forward to seeing certain people, but I knew it was still important to be there. The reason I was less interested in being there was due to political stances of others, and having to deal with comments that I rather not hear. Yet, something important happened to me. One of my family members, who I had reservations about seeing, and I, had a conversation for well over an hour. We talked about stuff that we've never discussed before and it had a lot to do with his life struggles and how he moved through it.
I walked away from that conversation with such an appreciation for this person. It reminds me of a clip I saw with Stephen Colbert. He was asked about how his mother was able to raise 9 children following the death of her husband, and 2 children, in a plane crash. He said, she was a woman of strong faith, taught her kids to love life without bitterness, and that everybody suffers, and accepting and being grateful for our pain is how we understand people better.
I know my conversation with my family member was so meaningful, because it was sharing about experiences in life that made such a serious impact. I could identify with his pain, through my own experience, and it brought me closer to him. My ego that was getting in the way, earlier in the day, was swept aside through sharing a vulnerable part of his life I knew nothing about.
One of the greatest pieces of advice I received, as a young adult, was from a mentor who helped me with a challenging supervisor. He told me, you need to spend more time with this person. Find a least one thing you have in common, and see what happens from there. This advice continues to guide me.
“You understand so little of what is around you because you do not use what is within you.” -Hildegard of Bingen