Sunday, July 22, 2012

Do I really know you?

This week there has been a reoccurring theme that I would like to talk about. I recently moved to Salt Lake City and as an outsider I often notice the differences between what I am accustomed to and the way people act here. I notice the different types of people and I have always loved observing others. I have noticed though, that my curiosity to understand the people around me is not a bad thing, but it can often lead to a negative action that we all participate in. What is this mysterious negative action that we all participate in?.........Judging others.

Now some may roll their eyes because they think about some lecture that their “Parentals” have given about seeing the good in people. I want to talk about a couple of things that I have reflected upon this week.

First I wanted to talk about when I was a Junior in High School. Like many men I was self focused and overly focused on the 3 things that mattered most to me at the time: Sports, Girls, and Doing wild and crazy things (note: I never really got myself into any trouble, just stupid teenage pranks, and other shenanigans). At the same time however my little sister was going through a hard time, but differing from the self-esteem issues that many teens struggle with, hers was a chemical imbalance. At the time I understood little about depression and at first found myself almost afraid of my own sister, who had been my best friend (“my sista”, “sisi”) turned worst enemy.

To better understand you must know that I was the most carefree person alive at 17. Every day was a “great” day, and I felt that I could make it a great day by making a simple decision. I was the optimist who loved being around other people.

But as I started to see my sister struggle with depression, it was confusing and at times angering. I thought to myself, how is she not able to get up and go to school? I could not understand what she was going through, nor could she explain it to me. As time passed I began to see that there were times that she did not have the capability to function the same way I did. Some days I could see the strain that it took for her to get up and get ready for the day. I began to realize that she did not have the capability to do so. As I noticed these things, my anger was swept away. Feelings of compassion came to me.

Though at times she would push me away, I would stand near as close as she would allow me. I would watch her girly shows (like one tree hill, or even pride and prejudice, which she must have watched 30 times that year) just because it was time we could be together. My eyes were opened to see, that if she had been injured and confined to a wheelchair I would have taken care of her, so why would I not do the same, when she needed my care more.  The more I was around her, the more I saw that this was a physical ailment, and not sparked by wrong decisions that my sister had made.

I need to preface this, saying that I was an immature teenage boy, and though I wish I could say that I always stood by my sister’s side, I often grew tired of the effort it took to be around her. I often did things that made her angry, but I will say that I TRIED, with the emotional ability I had as a 17 year old boy.

I learned many things from these experiences and here they are in a list to be simply seen:

1. I was afraid of what I did not understand

2. I judged my sister wrongfully from my perspective, which only took into account the way my life was.

3. Mental wellness should be viewed similarly as physical wellness (we need not run away from it or shy away from expressing our need to medical attention)

4. We all have different capabilities that allow us to be good at some things, while we may have weaknesses in others. 

5. I learned that if I used my strengths to bless the lives of those around me, then I would live a happier life, whether others chose to do the same or not.

This week I had a great conversation with a co-worker who has a brother with crohn’s disease.  He expressed to me the difficulties that he is having trying to grasp the concept that his brother cannot control his actions. He explained that he felt like if his brother would just eat the right things, take care of himself that he would be fine.  I tried to explain the lessons that I learned (listed above), but I often feel like in the moment my mouth to mind connection does not exist.

Here in Salt Lake City I find the same lessons coming back to me. Both in application and in explanation. As life often does, it cycles so that we can re-learn the lessons that we have in the past. I need to both apply and openly talk about what I have learned from my experiences.

I often feel like the young man who said:

Riffraff, street rat.
I don't buy that,
If only they'd look closer.
Would they see a poor boy?
No, siree, They'd find out
There's so much more to me

They say don’t judge a book by a cover, but I move to change this statement that we should not judge a book by its cover or its first 20 pages. Just we because we “think” we get to know someone does not mean we understand what they think, feel, or can imagine their personal experiences. Again if we bring back the story of my sister. I had lived with her my whole life, and “knew” everything about her, yet I found that I had no room to judge.

From a song dear to me I quote, “Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly? In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see.”
I recognize that my imperfections make it so that I cannot see why people are the way that they are.

There is such good in the people around me. When my eyes are opened to see the gifts that people around me possess, I am made better. I begin to believe that the world will be a better place. I find hope that when I have children those good gifts will shine brighter than the constant darkness we are convinced surrounds us.

To the man who plays guitar outside the restaurant, thank you. You have brightened my day, many times.  To the old man who waves when I leave for work, thank you. To the random lady, that gave me something to read at the trax station, thank you. And finally thank you for reading this,



  1. I was looking through my newsfeed and saw you had posted this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really liked reading what you had to say. :)

  2. Landon, if there were more people who thought the same way you do about this, the world would be a better place. Thanks for your post :)