So….Maybe I Don’t Like You

I’m currently frustrated with people. I don’t like them much.

My current inclination is to hole up and not engage with other people at all (well, other than my family and a few close friends. That friends list gets shorter by the day.). I’d be a hermit of sorts. Stay home a lot and read or go out to hike in beautiful places of solitude. It would make life easier. It would be far less frustrating. It would be peaceful.

But I can’t. That’s not why I believe I am here. I believe we are here to engage in life and work together to create a good life for ourselves. A good life for everybody.. Our neighbors. All of our neighbors. Our community. Our world.

But there are days I simply want to give up.   Now more than any time in my life. People I have respected are supporting this rude, thoughtless, unloving, unkind behavior, and engaging in it way too often. It hurts my heart.

I don’t like Republicans. I don’t like Democrats. I don’t like liberals. I don’t like conservatives. I don’t like people with opinions different than me. I don’t like people who think exactly like I do. I don’t like people with no opinions at all. I don’t like those who speak up. I don’t like those who remain silent. I don’t like friends. I don’t like strangers. I don’t even like Christians…the folks who are supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite frankly, sometimes I dislike them most of all.

We have become such a rude, intolerant people. We spout, but don’t listen….unless it is to slam the other speaker, for what we thought they were saying, because we certainly didn’t listen beyond their first sentence. We take facts out of context and espouse them as truth. We do no fact checking. We speak far and wide on subjects on which we have not educated ourselves. We don’t care whether what we are saying is right or wrong. We only care about scoring points and winning people to our side. It’s all about the spin and the win. The manipulation. We know we are right…..and our minds will not be changed. There is little civil debate. It has been replaced by personal attacks and mocking and condescending attitudes. There is no thought that perhaps we don’t know it all and maybe if we talked to people…..those who believe as we do, but also those who don’t…we may learn something.

I don’t want to hear your opinion about our new president because your emotion leads to the behavior already discussed. Your behavior has often rivaled his. Some of you will consider that a compliment. It is not meant to be. If you dislike his style, make yours different. If you like it, take a long hard look in the mirror. Are you really someone who respects this behavior and chooses it for your own?

 I wish it was just politics. But it is not. There just seems to be a “mean girl” attitude among both women and men. I despair of the kids being raised to hear some of you spouting off. I’d like to cover their ears…..and ban them from Facebook.

What completely breaks my heart is there are times I feel there is no one to talk to. No people who want to truly find solutions. Strong solutions that come as a collaboration of different thoughts, ideas, backgrounds, experiences, and education.. People who love learning they are wrong at times because it opens up their world and gives them more possibilities for solutions. People who want to make this world better, even if “better” may not be their current vision, or the vision they were raised to believe is “right”.

We bury ourselves in our smart phones and in our small little social circles. We don’t look up to see if we are about to mow someone down. And if we do, we don’t care. It’s their own fault. They shouldn’t have been in our way. We have also forgot the most important part of an apology…..not to just utter the words, but to make a plan to not do it again.

I may not like you at the moment, but I will get over it. Because you are in my world and though I do not like you all the time, I do love you. Let’s reconcile. Let’s put away the personal attacks. Let’s  not focus on our differences, but instead find common ground. Let’s solve problems, one by one. Using all of our knowledge and experience. With open minds, but mostly open hearts. Letting kindness be the rule, and not the exception.

Look in the mirror…..who are you? Have you forgotten? What do you value? How should you behave?

I’m going for love, kindness, and reconciliation. Because I think those things are what will really change the world. Not a derogatory comment about someone’s intelligence, weight, or hairstyle. Those make you look dumb. And I don’t believe you really are. When it gets down to it, if more of us resolve to jump off the crazy train and act as mature and wise adults, something good can be accomplished. In spite of those who choose ridicule and unbalanced rants as their communication of choice.

I want to like you. Should I?

The Legacy of Holding Hands

My parents were hand holders. It always made me smile when I saw it. It was one of the first things people noticed about them.. More times than I can count I had friends call and say “I saw your parents. They were just walking along and holding hands. They are so cute.” And they were. It was almost like a game of “I spy.” “I spy the McKinneys holding hands. Again.” We grew up seeing it, but I got so many of these calls I soon realized what a rarity it was. I loved it about them and what they taught us through this one gesture.

Mom and Dad were married 59 years and 11 months. On January 30, 2017, it would have been 60 years. They were engaged after three dates. Married after just one more. And not just a normal “get married and go on with your life” wedding. My 19-year old mom dropped out of nursing school in Newport, South Wales, packed her things, and got on a plane bound for the United States. She gave up her whole life there to join my dad in North Carolina for a small wedding at my grandparent’s house, with only the pastor and his wife, and my dad’s parents in attendance. No pictures, no fancy reception. She then moved with him to Massachusetts, where he worked full time and maintained a 3.8 grade point average in engineering school at Northeastern University there. Not an easy feat. Four out of the five of us kids were born there. More of a challenge.

As mom points out, leaving dad was never a practical option, so they had to work things out. Growing up we learned that in real life relationships you love, honor, and respect each other….but sometimes you also get angry. But you work it out. You don’t hold grudges. You are always loyal.

If you had met my dad, you probably wouldn’t have thought of him as a hand holder. He wasn’t what you would consider  a romantic. Romantic gestures were not the norm. If left to his own devices  he would most likely buy my mom a gift on the level of a vacuum cleaner or a mixer. That may be a romantic gift to some, but not to my mother. Yet he could surprise you….on the occasions when he ended up buying her jewelry, he bought her beautiful things. He had wonderful taste. Well, except that time he listened to the opinion of someone else. That was not a good idea. I think he learned his lesson. The one piece of jewelry he bought mom that she never wore.

There was a certain level of emotion my dad just didn’t possess. He was a classic engineer. Logic trumped all emotion. He could not care less about what anyone thought about him. This was on a level I have never encountered in another human being. It never occurred to him that it was any of his business or even something worth thinking about. I mentioned this to someone recently and they said that sounded like me. Oh….I so wish it was. It used to be a foreign concept, but I have learned from him in time. No, first I have to feel the pain, but then blessedly the logic I learned from dad now creeps in. Why should such a thing really matter to me? Unlike my dad the feelings are felt, but in my life I am blessed with plenty of love. I’ve learned, however, it doesn’t have to come from everyone. I won’t waste precious moments of my life worrying about it….instead I will enjoy and celebrate that which I do have. It is enough.

My cousin and I were talking when my dad was in the hospital about being raised by these McKinney men for whom the words “I love you” just weren’t often said. Yet we never doubted their love. (So OK, there were those times growing up I knew my “real” royal family were going to come for me and take me away from my Cinderella life….but maybe the thought that I read too much during these years was correct after all.)

My dad was in the hospital since November 8.  Much of that time is heartbreaking. Some of it was full of great beauty. My mom lovingly feeding my dad vanilla ice cream underneath his oxygen mask after he had what would only be his first surgery that day. (He savored each bite. I am so glad…vanilla ice cream was his favorite and it was his last real food.) Mom sitting in a chair next to dad’s bed, holding his hand as she slept with her head on his bed. Each of his children, and many of his grandchildren, kissing his cheek and reaching for his hand as they visited with him. Him squeezing back. Until he couldn’t. Then us just squeezing extra.

I had several friends who during these last days advised me to make sure I told dad I loved him. Does it sound weird that I didn’t find that to be important? I never have doubted, never will doubt, that he knew. Oh, this man of logic knew. It wasn’t because of us saying the words (because as I said before, those didn’t matter to him). It wasn’t because of my ability to be the best daughter (because he really didn’t require much from me as his daughter….and we all know I was his favorite anyway.). It wasn’t because of gifts I gave him…..I realized years ago he took no pleasure in gifts and it was a kindness not to make him open things and appear grateful. It was a burden to him and not a pleasure. No….these typical things others may need were not a bit necessary for him.

I was part of this man…..and him part of me. He knew I loved him just because I did. Would we all have liked more days together? Certainly. Are there more things I wish I’d either had him tell me about or I wish I had listened closer to? Oh yes. But my logical dad wouldn’t comprehend wasting time on regrets. He accepted what was. I will do the same.

When we first moved my dad to the Hospiçe House last Friday, and I reached for his hand, it was cold. It was a bit disconcerting. Later that night the radiating warmth returned. The last time I saw him on Saturday afternoon I held that warm hand for what would be the last time. As he and mom taught us, that’s what matters.  These McKinneys are hand holders. We are forever unified. He is a part of who I am and forever I’ll feel the warmth of his hand in mine. No regrets understood or allowed. I loved him and was loved by him. That will never end. I am grateful for the gift.

On Loving "Them" – The Gross, the Unloving, and the Socially Unacceptable

I had someone question me recently about someone in my life. Someone I love. This person had issues with some things that the person had done in their life. Things about that person’s character they thought were wrong. They evidently thought if I heard enough “evidence” I would completely wipe that person out of my life, ostracize them, and make them dead to me. I heard them out…until it made me tired….but it made little difference. I knew some of what they said to be true, didn’t believe other things, but overall was just floored by their hate. They, of course, denied hate….but it oozed out of every word. Their words didn’t change my mind, except to show me I didn’t have the energy for a relationship with this “reporter” right now. But I still love the imperfect person they were reporting on.

It’s not the first time this has happened. I seem to get these questions all the time. I hope that unless there is a major shift in our world’s thinking, I always do. I hope I love differently. Because I look around at what others call love and it seems like a pale imitation of what I believe the word to be. Not that I always do it perfectly… fact, I would call myself quite inadequate….but nevertheless I keep trying.
Look at me and I hope you see me loving a lot of imperfect people. “Sinful” people. People who don’t always get it right. Sometimes people who don’t even try to get it right. Some who try and try, but always seem to fall short. People with lots and lots of flaws. People who hurt other people, either intentionally or unintentionally. People who don’t believe as I do and don’t live as I think they should. People who screw up again and again and again. Gross people. Distasteful people. People who are rusty on the outside but shiny on the inside. People who are shiny on the outside but are rusty on the inside. People like you. People like me.
find that we usually weigh the grossness of what others do as worse than anything that we would ever do. Using our own moral compass, which may or may not be in good working order. We look at others and it seems to show us they are dead south, while we are headed north to heaven. We don’t consider that maybe we’re using faulty equipment or are confused about our destination. That we’re looking from the eyes of our own experience, our own goals, our own beliefs, our own strengths. That we’re thinking people are all they are ever going to be. That God is done with them. That his priorities for change in their lives match ours. We are arrogant….and using others to avoid looking in the mirror. 

The behavior of others is not my responsibility. I shouldn’t even be trying to locate it with my compass. unless it is to help me find my way. Their behavior is not highly contagious unless I choose to engage in risky behavior that makes me vulnerable to “catching the germs”. I know people want us to be sinners by association, but I just don’t ascribe to that theory. Yes, I do agree you have to be careful of the company you keep, so you don’t adopt their negative patterns, …but I’ll work on figuring out when and where I am vulnerable. I don’t care if you judge me for how it looks on the outside. My responsibility is to keep a close and open connection with God. He shows me when people are throwing me off course, draining me and where to go for refreshment. It’s not always where people think. Sometimes it means I avoid certain folks who call themselves Christian. Sometimes it’s time to find a well and drink.

We are people of free will. Our behavior is our behavior, their behavior is theirs. You can blame others, you can describe their grossness in detail, but you never make yourself more pristine when you do that. Oh, you may look better to the throngs of unthinking people around you, who agree with everything you say because it is the most expedient choice, because they also are off base, because they don’t live mindfully, or because they are just not paying attention to you and agreeing with everything by rote. But you’re just deluding yourself when you listen to them. God knows the truth. Deep down, you do, too. You, and you only, are responsible for your behavior. For your choices. For your sin. I never am. Well, unless I do encourage and entice you to it….but once again that is my issue and has nothing to do with your choice.
If I spend a lot of time focusing on the things that people are doing wrong, I often fail to encourage the things they are doing right. I am not encouraging positive change. And I believe people can change. I also believe there are reasons for what we do, all the time. Sometimes people just don’t know any better. Sometimes they aren’t self aware. Sometimes they have adopted bad patterns and habits. Sometimes they are overwhelmed to the point of being out of their minds and do stupid things.
Love is not a feeling. Love is a commitment. A vow, of sorts. A word of ongoing action. My definition always goes back to I Corinthians 13. I use it as a checklist to make sure I am really loving people and not just describing how people make me feel. I don’t think I am very good at it, but yet I make it a goal.
If I am loving someone, I am patient with them, kind to them, not envious of them, and not boastful about how much better I am than them. I am not too proud to be real with them, not doing things that dishonor them, not thinking just of me (and my wants and needs). I am not getting angry at them easily and I am not keeping lists of their wrongs and bringing them up over and over and over again. I don’t get excited when I see them do evil<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28672N" data-link="(N)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> but get really excited when I see them doing good.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28672O" data-link="(O)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> If I love them I always, always, always protect them, trust them, hope for them, and hang in there for them, even (especially) when it’s far easier to give up on them.

I don’t usually stay in relationships without purpose or when people don’t treat me well. This is not a rule for me, but a guideline….for example, they may actively disrespect me, but I willingly stay for a season to see if I can help them learn something about respecting others. Overall, though, I don’t enable bad behavior. Sometimes you have to acknowledge it’s bad behavior and you are not the best person to help them “get it”. Sometimes there are the folks I must choose to walk away from and love from afar. Sometimes that means I have to put extra energy in praying for that person and waiting and watching for God to change them. But still sometimes I am meant to stand alongside them. Regardless of what others think.

My goal is that when I leave this world I will have learned to love well. I hope I please God with my progress. I hope I don’t have much regard for what others think of me (because too often I find that I do). 

Love is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact, if you only love those for whom you have warm and fuzzy feelings, there is not much power in it. If the people in your life only love the perfect sunshine-y you, and you only love them when you are around the perfect sunshine-y them, see it as it is. That’s called conditional love. It’s a weak love. 

I am after agape love. The kind that loves people “even though”. The love that is there even when we are gross, making bad decisions, falling short of the mark, and getting the gossips talking. Loving when they don’t necessarily love us back the same way. I hope I continually am learning to actively love others through it all. And loving myself that way. Because that’s how God loves….and the kind of love he wants us to demonstrate when he tells us to love him first, and then to love others as ourselves. Let’s work on increasing that in our lives. It’s a beautiful thing. Even when the blind folk tell us it’s not.

One Week

It’s been one week. One week since my dear great nephew left this earth. I still feel like I am in a fog. I can function, and have accomplished what I needed to do, but things happen that show me I am not quite myself. My mind, if not kept in check, goes to worry…..and to images of his last minutes, the last seconds. I was not there, yet the images still fill my brain. God does take them away when I ask. I suspect it is me who brings them back.

My niece Sara, his mom, talked about the desire to be invisible when she goes out in public and it really resonated with me. I have felt the same thing. People are both a comfort and a challenge. I want to talk about it, but then I don’t want to talk about it. I want normal, but it’s not normal. Even a few simple words from certain people will tear my heart out or make me cry. Other times I can remain composed.
Sometimes I just want to scream “Shut up” to some and “Don’t you understand what has happened?” to others. But I understand that people are processing it all in their own way. Even those who didn’t know him. They want to understand. That they want to help. They are doing the best they can. And as difficult as it is to believe, it has not touched the lives of everyone.
The memorial service was horrible and beautiful. I spent most of it praying for our broken hearts and for the faces I watched around the room. I was with my mom, his great grandmother, and the images that will remain strongest for me are the grieving embrace between her and his paternal grandmother and then watching my mom hugging and holding hands with my brother-in-law’s mother, his other great grandmother, as they grieved together. They loved him so much. As my mom drove me to the service she said “I was just talking to Kaelan on my way to pick you up and telling him he was supposed to attend my service, not me his.” I think we all have had that particular conversation.
I’ll remember the sight of Sara reaching out for her mom, my sister Dana, when she got into her vicinity at the graveside. She saw nothing else at that moment, needed nothing more than her mom’s comfort and to give her mom comfort. More beauty.

Sara continues to amaze me. I watch her dogged desire to make sure Kaelan is remembered for what made him unique. I watch her looking out for her daughters and making sure they are OK. I see her writing down what she is thinking, believing that talking about it openly will help people…. hoping that in sharing her thoughts it will help others understand. Knowing that writing about it helps her as it helps me. Our therapy. Even better for us than talking it out, because our brains are so cluttered with thoughts they need the editing of thinking them through to make sense out of them.

I am watching Sara’s strength and her brokenness. Her faith and her compassion. Her despair and her humor. Her love for those that he loved….and for those that loved him, even those didn’t always love him perfectly. Her lack of blame. Her acceptance of what is. Her pain.

His sisters Sela and Karys. So strong, in this thing that is so hard to process even for adults. Their beauty and their compassion. The way they try to look after their family and each other and all those around them, remaining kind at a time where their emotions must be searing. His stepfather Brian, wanting to make things better for all but heartbroken there is not a lot he can fix this time. My other young nieces and all of his other family members (there are a ton), broken-hearted. His father Keith, walking pain. 

Oh, and all the kids…..his friends. They tore the fabric of my heart. I wanted to hug them all, to touch them all. I am sure I confused a few as I touched them as I walked by. I wanted to connect. They probably think of me as some crazy lady. It won’t be the first time someone has thought that….or the last. I wanted to say something to them that would put it all in perspective, but I still haven’t found those words yet. I don’t think there are words.
The two pastors so very different in outlook and approach, but common in the love they exuded. The music, traditional and untraditional. Beautiful and poignant, all.
Suits and t-shirts, formal and casual. Many people coming together from where they are to pay tribute in their own way. Tears from the weakest of weak to the toughest of tough. Smiles and laughter through the tears as we remember his quirky self.
Crazy weather….storms to sunshine to torrential downpours to rainbows. Almost as if all of heaven was joining us in full force on this day that was an exclamation mark in so many lives. Getting our attention to let us know that a big and powerful God was there for us….in case we be hard-headed. Letting us know that heaven had a new resident that would still shake up the world.
I want to forget, but also remember every detail. One friend urged me to make sure I don’t bypass the pain. To make myself go through it. Important advice. Good advice. Terrifying advice. I still want to avoid it. To peal off one layer at a time. I think that’s OK. As long as I eventually walk through it.
A week later I am grateful for the thousands, and I know there are thousands, who have prayed for my family. I wish the energy of those prayers could go back in time and change things. But it can’t, and as much as I pray I can’t stop the pain for those I love most in the world. But one thing I have seen in this week. God is with us, as he was with Kaelan during those last moments of fear and pain, and as he passed over from life to death to life. And we, for 17 years as he was on this earth, and before and beyond, love him. In the midst of the worse pain, joy lives. 

Our Loss

Yesterday we lost the life of my great nephew Kaelan, my niece Sara’s boy, my sister Dana’s grandson, to suicide. That is how he died, but I hope no one sees him as just another statistic. That doesn’t tell the whole story. There are always so many layers. He is so much more than how his life ended. His story ended tragically, but he was full of life. That life is what we will choose to remember.

He was 17. Incredibly bright. A lover of animals, especially reptiles. I know…..who loves reptiles? To me it was crazy. His mom Sara told a story today about how their former neighbor called Animal Control and reported them saying they had an alligator on the premises. It was his pet iguana, that he would take on walks on a leash.
While I can’t say he made me love reptiles, he made me consider them as possibly less than vile. And some….I had to agree…were actually amazing when I looked and saw them through his eyes. He knew so much about them. Had so much compassion for them. He’d show me pictures and say “Aunt Kim, look at this one. I think you’ll like it.” Sometimes I did. I expect In the future I will be even more open to them. I have one friend who I remember when I see butterflies. I’ll think of Kaelan when I see lizards and snakes and other such creatures.
He was artistic. Such a beautiful and talented artist. He was a free spirit. He was passionate and opinionated and stubborn. I didn’t always agree with him, but I do love people who speak their mind. I expected as he matured, his opinions would have more layers and he would change his mind about a few things. Most of us do.
He was a skateboarder who drove me crazy when I heard about some of his antics. I’d lecture him on occasion (I have a tendency to do that) and he would give me a look of amused tolerance. We both knew nothing was changing.
He was a hard and good worker, something not seen in teenagers often these days, who once thanked me for “letting him” and his stepdad Brian spend most of their day mulching my yard. He was loving and sweet and kind to me. Always. And a great companion. I have wonderful memories of our Tosco Music Party dates, where we would laugh and sing and on the way home talk enthusiastically about our favorites.
He was loved. So very loved. By so many people. His loss is proof that love is not always enough to save someone. Suicides don’t occur because of a shortage of love or because the person doesn’t know they were loved. I am absolutely certain that was something he never doubted.
I’ve been numb since I heard. It still doesn’t seem real. I wonder if it ever really will. But yet our whole world has changed. Oh, I know we will live and laugh. We will celebrate the 17 years we knew him and be grateful we have so many beautiful memories to overshadow the bad. We will also mourn. What he could have been, should have been. Every day ahead will be different than it would have been if he was still in this world.
I know God knew his pain. I know God knows our pain and the many conflicted feelings that course through our veins as we try to get through this time. I don’t know how to do this. Don’t know how to act. Don’t know how to react. It’s one of those times you let God carry you through, borrowing on his strength to cover your weakness….but not even feeling you are doing that very well. You feel paralyzed. And distracted. And like the world is a little off kilter. This shouldn’t be happening. 
You may not have known him, but I would be happy to tell you more. I pray that you will know others like him and won’t just walk by them. I pray that you will join me and we will find a way to really help them. To remind them of their purpose, instead of letting them feel helpless. To encourage them to live, really live, instead of even for a moment wanting to die.
Oh…..our Kaelan could have changed the world. He had it all. Everything he needed to be successful. Everything he needed to be happy beyond measure. He couldn’t see it himself. Didn’t think he had what it would take to endure. What could have helped him? What could have changed this outcome? I have no clue. The last years I couldn’t figure out a way to help, to support, and not enable. Because of this, in the end I most often stayed away.  I felt like I would just nag and needle and make it all worse. Was that right or wrong? There is no way to know. I know he knew I was there, adoring him, but I missed him. I think he knew that, too.
My heart breaks for all of us who love him. That love is still living and active. It will be as long as we live. He is a part of who we all are. It’s a beautiful thing, even though now tinged with so much sadness. That kind-hearted boy would not want us to feel pain, but as we couldn’t prevent that in him, he can’t prevent that in us. To never get another big hug from those long gangly arms, it seems impossible. He was the first member of a new generation for our family…so much hope and promise. It’s wrong that he will not be here long after we’re gone.
Knowing him, loving him, losing him….it changed me. It changed a lot of us. We will mourn his death, but even more we will find ways to celebrate his life. Kaelan Avery Privette, you mattered so much and you will never be forgotten. We will live life a bit more fully, since you cannot. And we will spread the love you leave behind all around the world.

I Love Me!

“I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically – I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and to make something out of it.” Stevie Wonder

I have been talking with some of my buddies lately about us all becoming the best “me” we can be. It’s a journey, and if we do it well it is probably a lifelong one. In the course of assessing and planning, I have vowed one thing for myself. I’m not going to wait until the best me arrives….even today, I am going to love me.

In many ways we live in a mean and shallow world. Spend five minutes on Facebook and you will see someone being vilified. It turns my stomach. I listen to the reasons people hate and it astounds me. It can be something as shallow as how someone dresses or what team they cheer for or how much money they have or the country they were born in or a dumb thing they did one day when exhausted and at the end of their rope.
We look at advertising and the photo-shopped images that we’re supposed to aspire to be. I have long been a skeptic of such things and my ideas of beauty and ideals are very different than those they hold up to me. The cool, the aloof, the perfect….those usually are not the people who really interest me (though they can make for some really great photographs). They are not usually what I aspire to be. The warm, the approachable, and those with slight (or even dramatic) flaws draw my eye….those are the images, and the people, that most fascinate me. I’d rather meet those with eyes of passion, of kindness, of mischief, or of excitement than those who are bored or vacant or burned out by life.
I won’t ever be an advertiser’s dream. I won’t ever look like a fashion model. Life in general will never be effortless for me or make me look graceful or perfect. That’s OK with me, because those are not big  dreams for me. My goals are more on the level of wearing clothes right side out and not forgetting to put mascara on both eyes, and loving people more and better.
Which includes me. I want to view myself as I view the others I love. Not with a lot of illusions, but also with a lot of grace. With a lot of forgiveness. Even if sometimes that doesn’t quite come naturally. Often those we love are the people whose faults we are most irritated by. It’s a moment by moment exercise to move beyond that and instead celebrate the whole of who they are and try to keep the imperfections in perspective. I find the irritations fade when I consider the whole person, though. When I remember why I love them in the first place. Their commitment to me, their acts of kindness, the times of laughter, the shared struggles. When I think of them I smile….and I can’t help but celebrate this wonderful masterpiece God created. It’s a bit harder to think of myself that way. Maybe it shouldn’t be.
I have found if you love yourself, the opinions that barrage you and the unrealistic images don’t really matter. You find that often people just aren’t as good of judges of character or people as they think they are. You are the expert of you. You know your heart, you know your intent. You know when they don’t match your actions, and when you need to make adjustments to be the you that meets your mission statement. You know those little victories you score, and how very hard you work to learn and grow and keep life full and vibrant. You know the struggles you have endured, the struggles you still endure, but you also know how you have powered through. Someone can be an expert in human nature, but their assessment of you could still be incorrect.
So on this last day of love month, on this special leap day….let’s all take that big jump and think of ourselves as God’s great creations. As slightly flawed, but still perfect. As vital and vibrant and special enough that God thought the world needed someone just like us. I love these verses….

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.” Jeremiah 31:3-4 King James Version (KJV)

If we are drawn with lovingkindness, why don’t we see that when we look in the mirror? And why don’t we grab those tambourines (tabrets) and celebrate this great masterpiece of the creator? Why don’t we love us? Will you love you, if I love me?