This is the third and final installment of my advice to my children. You know, the ones I don’t have. But this is what I would tell my child if I had one to bore to death.
You’re a good kid. You’re also my kid with my genes flowing through you. As much as you don’t want it to be, I’m sorry to say, you’re going to have some of my attributes. It’s inevitable that you will act like me in some matters. Sorry I didn’t give you more to work with.
Let me share with you one thing that’s taken me a very long time to learn. Annoying people need respect, also. I know it’s hard to be nice to somebody who gets under your skin. It’s easy to love our friends and we know we need to forgive our enemies. But we also have to respect the people who irritate us. Is it easy? Not always.
I remember an incident that happened years ago when I was assigned to work with somebody I had difficulty appreciating. We had a task to do and were under the gun to finish it productively. At home, my complaining became incessant and my dad dubbed my co-worker as my “nemesis.” I laughed about it. But then it stuck. According to Encarta, a nemesis is “a bitter enemy, especially one who seems unbeatable.”
The truth is I saw the whole matter in a black and white way. If I was good (and I am pretty sure overall I am good) that meant my nemesis had to be bad. And if I was good, people would like me. If she were bad, people would agree with me that she was bad and we would shun her. Surely, I was right which meant my nemesis was wrong.
But it didn’t work out that way. People liked her. And they weren’t the wrong crowd type of people – they were good people. She did good things (for other people). I was not vindicated one bit for my feelings toward her. So, did that mean I was wrong and she was right? That I was bad and she was good? Or, that (gulp) she was the heroine and I was the villain?
Nope. Not at all.
It took some time and a whole lot of effort but I received some enlightenment one day while reading the scriptures. Jacob 2:21 changed my way of thinking. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the precious lesson I learned. Nephi’s younger brother Jacob is teaching the people and said, “…And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever.”
I had read that verse many, many times. But that particular day when I read it I got the picture. We are all here for the same reason. Some of us are even moving toward the same goal. But every person is precious in the sight of our Heavenly Father. After all, He told us, “This is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
There are no favorites here. Parents learn this lesson when they have more than one child. At least, I hope they learn it. Otherwise, they will have some pretty unhappy children. My mom never had favorites. She loved us all the same but in different ways because we are different people. But I never felt more or less loved than my siblings. Even though I may joke about it, I know her love was equal.
I think it is human nature to try and rank things, including ourselves. Even the disciples of Jesus fell into this trap. “Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest” (Luke 9:46). Jesus answered by setting a child on His lap and giving the instruction, “…he that is least among you all, the same shall be great” (John 9:48).
The Lord loves us all equally. Even the annoying ones. It’s our job to find ways to get along with people so that we can co-exist. Who knows, someone may be struggling to appreciate us. Nah! How could anyone find us annoying?!