We all have people in our lives who are sometimes difficult to get along with. Some of us have people who are chronically hard to get along with and sometimes we actually live with these people! We know there is good inside of them, but for whatever reason, it is difficult for them to show it. It may be mental illness, severe depression or in our case Reactive Attachment Disorder. We love our son, but let’s be honest…he is very difficult to live with.
Years ago my father said that many people have more friends when they are dead than when they were alive. He meant that many times people visit a funeral home and didn’t visit the individual. He shared this when a “friend” of my cousin had died at the age of 14. He said that many people became that boy’s “friend” the day he died. The same is true of what we say about the dead. What we remember. We stop saying all the things that bugged us about the individual and we start sharing all the great memories and fun, kind things the person did. I was reading a description of a mother’s son that the mother wrote after she lost him in a car accident. Though her child wasn’t a difficult child, I think there is still some things she left unsaid. Maybe we should try to do that with our living children….even the difficult ones. That said, let me introduce you to Paul, only the good stuff.
Paul will be 17 years old soon and was born to a different set of parents than he has today. He is a remarkable young man who has overcome many obstacles. He suffers some physical and mental limitations but has defied the professionals’ opinions in many cases. He can ride a bike, visit a store alone, count money & is very technically apt contrary to what they thought. He is a loving and compassionate guy who sincerely prays for and encourages others in their time of need. He spends countless hours visiting the sick and the elderly and befriends people who aren’t even aware that they are in need of a new friend. He leaves a lasting impression with everyone he meets. Everyone knows Paul and calls him by name.
He speaks his mind without a filter which is at times the most important thing to do. When a friend of ours was battling brain cancer, he saw me standing at the kitchen sink and said, “Are you praying for Nicholas?” When I responded that I wasn’t, he said, “Well maybe you should.”
On another occasion a friend shared a story about something she witnessed at the local grocery store. When she pulled into the parking lot, she saw Paul sitting on a display of potting soil stacked in the front of the store. He appeared to just be greeting each person who entered. Then she noticed a big, burly man in a beat up truck pull in and park in the handicapped spot. She noticed the truck was in the inappropriate spot, but she said nothing. The man exited his vehicle, threw his burning cigarette into the lot and walked toward the store. Paul calmly mentioned, “Hey, maybe you weren’t aware of it, but you parked in a handicapped spot.” The man shrugged his shoulders, grumbled a swear word and returned to his truck and moved it. Upon entering the store again he looked at Paul and said, “Thanks man.” Paul never shared these events. They weren’t big deals to him, they just were. They represent who Paul truly is.
We have a summer home along the Allegheny river and Paul is known as the “Mayor of Rimer.” I know the neighbors two doors to our left and two doors to our right, but Paul knows everyone along the 1.1 miles worth of road and their friends and families. He makes a point of greeting them and asking them about something he knows they are interested in. When I introduce myself, it’s easier (& more advantageous for me) to refer to myself as “Paul’s Mom.” No other explanation is needed and I am welcomed to any picnic or party along the river.
He is polite and courteous and what he lacks in intellect, he makes up for in his incredible ability to ask others for help. He gets what he needs and he blesses others by allowing them to utilize their God given desire to serve others. It takes a village to raise Paul and the village is a better place because of him.
So when dealing with difficult people, in case you forget, there is goodness in them. It may be helpful to write it down & refer to it often. Play the good things the individual does through your mind as often as you replay the bad things they have done. Also, in case you forget, you just might be the difficult person in someone else’s life and you may want them to do the same thing!