Has someone influenced the way you see the world? If so, how?
My friend, Leveda, is one who has influenced me greatly by being an example of unconditional love. She has a way of accepting people exactly as they are without judgment. She’d never think of trying to change anyone and always tries to help people any way she can whether their way of life is similar to hers or not.
For example, her food preferences are mostly vegetarian while her husband’s are not. She gladly cooks his meat-and-potatoes meals, which she would never think of eating. If she thought his diet was a poor choice, she’d never suggest it to him.
The first time I encountered this quality in her, we were in her kitchen having coffee. She got a steak out of the freezer for her husband’s dinner that night. I asked, “Don’t you resent cooking different meals for each of you every day?” (I being of the “change-them” persuasion). What she said floored me because she genuinely meant it – she wasn’t faking. “He’s a grown-up,” she said, “and he’s been eating that way all his life. I have no right to try and change him.”
Immediately I envied her and decided I wanted to be like that. Everyone of the “change-them” persuasion knows that it’s hard work to change someone and it creates a good deal of stress in one’s life. You’re on duty all the time.
The first time I was actually able to truly accept another person’s choices without that inner twinge of judgment, that instant light-bulb inspiration leading to the perfect “change-them” strategy, was wonderful. I felt calm inside and free, knowing that the other’s behavior of choice would never come between us. I felt a deeper respect for the other person and for myself.
It took a while for this new response to be automatic for me, and I am grateful to Leveda for being my role model. I am most fortunate to have a friend like her.