The Girl I Didn't Like
Let's talk about a girl.
A girl who bothered me, to be more specific.
A girl who bothered me my first year of college, to be extremely specific.
A girl who bothered me my first year of college who ended up teaching me a lot about what it means to be a christian, to be unequivocally specific.
Weird topic, right?
Extremely weird topic. We're being specific here.
Let's call Her annie.
So you know how people say "Oh they'd never hurt a fly!" to describe someone who's incredibly sweet.
Well I'm willing to bet my bottom dollar that Annie actually never hurt a fly.
If you had asked me back then to describe her, I would have said "a little bit of a goody two shoes." But not only is that description wrong, it's also not the christian thing to say. Which is why I'm not saying it now. I'm saying that past-me would have said it...while present-me types out what past-me would have said. Now that we're both thoroughly confused, let's continue.
She was noticeably different just by the way she dressed. Not a judgement, just an observation. She wore very conservative outfits, knee length skirts and long dresses that had a 50's vibe. I'm a girl who doesn't like wearing dresses or anything I can't sit cross-legged in or do a spur-of-the-moment cartwheel while wearing—so while our sense of style was different, that wasn't what bothered me.
It was that she was always so kind.
Never did I hear her say a bad thing about anyone, not even a joke at someones else's expense. (And just to be clear, I hate gossip. I don't do it and I don't get along with girls who do it. It's ugly. But I'm aware of myself and can definitely say I've talked about other people negatively more than a few times in my life.) But I knew Annie for a whole year, and I never heard her say anything remotely gossipy about anyone, ever.
She always asked you how you were and how things were going with your classes. When she looked at you, she really looked at you. (So much so, that at the time it kinda made me uncomfortable.) She gave you her undivided attention.
Her words were kind, but so were her actions. She got everyone from our friend group small and thoughtful gifts for Christmas. When I transferred schools, she was the only one to call to ask where I went.
At the time I told myself it bothered me because it seemed so artificial. No way anyone was actually that understanding and kind all the time. (Could you tell I'm a New Yorker?)
I remember one morning I had woken up early to get breakfast and study in the cafeteria. I saw Annie a few tables away, reading something. She was highlighting and taking notes. I figured she was studying too. When I left, I walked by to say hi. She hadn't been studying. She was reading the Bible.
I distinctly remember thinking, "Oh come on. You've gotta be kidding me."
Because I thought it was just so over the top. Like having a giant neon sign that says, "LOOK AT ME, I'M A GOOD PERSON. SEE?" Because, who reads the Bible out in public? It was like some strange way to get attention, or validation.
Four years later, I started reading the Bible in public.
It's funny how God works. Something I had rolled my eyes at a few years earlier became a fundamental part of my life.
I wake up and read it. In front of my roommates (which 4 years prior I would never have even dreamed of doing.) I'd take it outside and read it on a bench or on the lawn where plenty of people passed by. The thought "what will they think of me?" never once entered my mind. And I certainly wasn't doing it for attention or to make it seem like I was a "good person." I read it because I needed it.
The more I thought about Annie, the more I realized why she had bothered me. It wasn't because her kindness seemed "fake". It was because she was a living breathing example of my flaws.
Her kindness was a blatant reminder of how often I lacked compassion. Her thoughtfulness was jolting, making me aware of my own selfishness.
No one likes to be constantly reminded of the things they're doing wrong. And she was that; an active example of the right way I was failing to live.
I think we all have, at one point in our lives, thought something along the lines of:
But if I'm gonna make a judgement of myself based on the bad things that I haven't done, I better factor in all of the good that I haven't done either. If I'm comparing myself to the worst, it's only right I compare myself to the best.
Plus, if we're all being honest with ourselves, even though we may not have done X, Y, and Z...we've probably done A, B, and C...and personally speaking, a heck of a lot more of the alphabet too.
Annie indirectly showed me the ways I was failing to live. The ways Jesus is calling all of us to live.
Now I know sometimes people can be annoying for a bunch of random reasons. But no matter why someone annoys you, try to see it as a chance to live better and act kinder. It's hard, and I still fail more times than not. But I keep on trying.
My mom told me that whenever St. Mother Teresa saw someone coming who annoyed her, she would lean over to one of the Sisters and say "Here comes Jesus in that really annoying disguise again."
Mother Teresa was human, just like the rest of us, and dealt with people who could be annoying. But she saw everyone as a child of Christ. Imagine if we did that too.