What if I treated you, every day, in every way, like you were the absolute best version of yourself? Like you were really, really awesome. The YOU that God created you to be. The you He is gently pressing you toward?
That sounds hard. I mean, much of the time we react to each other as if the other person is the very worst we can imagine. He’s rude. She’s immature. They are mean. We take the small amount of information we actually have, and then make assumptions and place labels and take any opportunity to infer that someone’s motives are the very worst.
Maybe it makes us feel better about ourselves. Maybe it’s a form of self preservation. We won’t be caught lying down, thinking someone was good, only to be hurt in the end!
But when you flip it around and you think about how you want to be treated, how it feels to be thought of as the worst version of yourself…it’s not only painful and cruel…it certainly doesn’t make you want to be any better, does it?
Conversely, think of someone who always thinks well of you. Someone who trusts you. Someone who would be SURPRISED to learn you did something unkind or selfish. Someone who gives you the benefit of the doubt. They overlook your offenses, chalk your rudeness up to a bad day, respond to your harsh word with a kind one, receive your grumpiness with understanding. Don’t you just LOVE those people? Don’t you want to really BE your best for them?
We’re so concerned with getting taken advantage of – but it seems like maybe it works in the opposite way we think it does. Maybe the way to bring out the best in someone is to just start treating them like they’re already there. I know, it sounds risky and unsafe. But I know when I think of how it feels to be treated like I’m already mature and trustworthy and kind and giving and selfless…it’s incredible. It makes me feel loved and special and it honestly ups my game. If you believe my motives are dark and my priorities are selfish and my choices predictably fall short, I’ll probably either give up on myself or you. But…if you show me appreciation and admiration, I’ll go to the moon to give you my best. I’ll give you my all. I want to be that person you believe I am.
So, I want to criticize and judge less, and do more to help people realize their potential. There are a handful of people who have done this for me. I will always be grateful to you, and I’m trying to be more like you.