We were in Bar Harbor, Maine last week. Our grandson was in the pool every night. One night I was at poolside watching them. A young girl and her mom were also there.
The mom came over to me and started a conversatin. Turns out here we are in Bar Harbor and she lives about ten miles from me back home in Michigan.
It really is a small world.
I liked her immediately. A lot. There was something genuine about her.
We got to talking. After a period of time she revealed she has three children, but had never been married.
That’s a first for me. Three children out of wedlock.
And then she added, in the most matter of fact way, “But I’m a good person.”
You know what? I had no problem with that at all. I could tell she was a good person.
She is now married. She drives a school bus and loves her job. I picked up that she has always worked hard and supported her children all by herself for years.
She was articulate and funny. I warmed to her instantly
Eventually, we said good-night wishing each other good journeys. We got on the elevator and find out we’re heading to the same floor. Turns out our rooms were next door to each other. Go figure.
The next morning, we found a soda carton with about six cans of soda and some orange juice with a note that said, “Enjoy, neighbors”.(Their flight left much earlier than ours.)
Now here’s the point of the story.
What if I had known about the circumstances surrounding her children’s parenthood, before I talked to her?
Would that have skewed how I responded to her?
Would I have assumed that we had nothing in common?
I hope I wouldn’t have.
Her history mattered little to me after we had engaged in some conversation. I could see us actually becoming friendly over the long term had we stayed in contact.
I find it very true that once you begin an honest conversation with someone, you find out that despite the differences, we are more alike than we are different.
She mentioned that when her husband, then fiancee, took her to meet his mother, he was a little worried about how his mother would receive her. Turns out there was no problem at all. I have a hunch that’s because the soon-to-be mother-in-law recognized a “good person” the same way I did.
So that got me to thinking.
How would I define a good person?
I know what doesn’t define a good person.
A good person isn’t a good person because they’ve never made a mistake.rebecca platt
I would define a “good” person who first of all, “does no harm”. They don’t hurt anyone intentionally. They are non-judgmental. They are kind. They are genuine. They are not self-centered but think of others. They are generous in whatever way they can be. They take responsibility for their own life and make no excuses for their mistakes.
My definition described this woman. I realize it was only a short conversation but if you listen carefully, pay attention to body language, ask questions, show sincere interest, listen, people reveal a lot about themselves in just a few minutes. Most people like to talk about themselves if given the opportunity.
Hopefully, my reaction to her when she told me about her children was such she thought me a good person. You might be wondering how that particular part of the conversation came about.
She had mentioned her oldest son who was still living at home and unemployed. I told her about someone I know and admire because she has made a complicated marriage work. She married a man who had two children by two different women. She has two children by two different men, one of them her husband.
According to the statistics, this marriage shouldn’t have had a chance. Instead, they have made it work and I admire their efforts. They are a well-adjusted family unit. Their children are well-mannered.
I further mentioned how she expects her children, once they’ve graduated high school, to either have a job or pursue higher education. She hasn’t backed down either.
So maybe sharing that story opened the door for her to share her story.
You will notice I didn’t mention anything about faith in my definition. Why?
goodness is not defined by whether or not one adheres to a set of religious beliefs.
So what about you?
What defines a good person for you?
Have you ever wondered about it?
Have you ever run into someone whose choices you might highly question, whose beliefs you don’t agree with, whose lifestyle you don’t understand, but you would still call them a “good person”?
I hope so.
I also hope that when someone meets me and doesn’t agree with my conservative views, doesn’t understand my faith, would label me a “good person” as well.
One final word. Depression does not define your “goodness” or lack of it. The best people I know all suffer or have suffered from depression and they are some of the best “good” people I know.
The world would certainly be a better place if we saw the “good” in people before we learned their history.
God bless and have a great day.
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