That's been a really interesting part of doing funeral ministry for me.
I have a tendency to take people at their public face - what they show to the public, what most people know about them. I mean, if someone comes across as a know it all, difficult to get to know, sort of standoffish and rude - who among us doesn't take that person at that truth?
And avoid getting to know that person.
When, in reality, that person may have a fascinating story of love and loss, heartbreak and tragedy, irritability and stalwart servitude. But you'd never know it.
You find out a LOT about people when you start to talk to them - and even more when you shut off your own big fat mouth, close down your ever working brain, stop trying to figure out what you are going to say next
and instead - just listen.
I spoke with an older lady once, who had been married to a sailor and was being honored during a Veteran's Day ceremony. I asked her what she'd done to be awarded - and she said, with a shrug,
I was just a mom.
But when I talked to her, for a long while, she had so many stories of love and loss. Betrayal, heartbreak, death and denial sandwiched in there with a whole lot of laughter and snark.
I try to remember this when I'm dealing with someone especially difficult. Reflecting on the person as a puzzle, an enigma, a challenge - has been really helpful, and I wonder:
What would be the piece of information that people would find most interesting, most unusual or most astonishing about you?