I once had the privilege of sitting in a Native American sweat lodge led by two elders in the community who had been married a long time.
We all sat tightly packed in the dark, cavernous sweat lodge like nervous sardines, surrounded by steam. I huddled with my knees awkwardly hitting my chest, trying not to smear my sweaty body onto the person next to me, as the chief began to talk about love, marriage and true partnership.
He talked about how his wife had particular idiosyncrasies, as did he. Over the years, he had learned to love his wife not despite her quirks, but because of them.
Her idiosyncrasies that used to annoy him had now become endearing.
The key to lasting partnership, he claimed, is finding someone whose quirks you can tolerate. And then learning to not only tolerate those quirks, but appreciate them.
We all have our quirks.
I’m a time optimist who is often late (my friends will nod in recognition when they read this.) When I asked my best friend, “Doesn’t it annoy you or get old?” She said, “No, that’s just you. I don’t take it personally. And if I really need you somewhere at a certain time, I just tell you 10 minutes earlier.”
She accepts me as I am, with my foibles. And finds a work-around when needed.
As someone who audibly sighs at my husband’s ongoing habit of rinsing the dishes but not loading them in the dishwasher, I thought, “Wow, if I could get to a place of seeing his quirks as endearing instead of criticizing those behaviors and by extension, him, what might that do for our marriage?!”
I’m not quite there yet, but it seems like an admirable goal to pursue.
In her Netflix special, Brene Brown tells a touching story of two parents who said, “Our four year old son had the most annoying habit of really banging the screen door shut. We’d yell at him several times a day to PLEASE STOP BANGING THE SCREEN DOOR.”
Their son was diagnosed with cancer and died at a very young age. Talking to Brene about grief, longing and vulnerability, the mom shared;
“What I wouldn’t give to hear that screen door bang shut just one more time.”
It broke my heart a little bit to hear those words.
And it made me remember how much I take for granted when it comes to the people I love.
It’s easy to find other people’s behavior annoying.
Finding the eternal, endearing nature that is always present inside each of us takes more skill. Especially when we’re in the thick of daily living.
So today, I invite you to appreciate those in your life – not just for the things they do that match up with what you want them to do, but also for the things they do that do not match up with what you want.
There is gold in all of it.
Love is everywhere. Sometimes, you just have to soften your focus to see it.
May you feel loved and find it easier to love others today and every day,