You need to be around people that make you uncomfortable. They are helping you no end. Those people you don’t like, who make you feel uncomfortable? You think they’re not your friends, but they are. They are more your friends than the people you like. The people who make you feel uncomfortable show you things about yourself. And those things are true. More true than the things you choose to share with people you want to like you, with the people you like. When you’re with people you like, that’s not really you. It’s the you that you want them to think you are. With people you don’t like, you have no reason to hide things about yourself. You can’t be duplicitous – there’s no point. When we like someone and want them to like us, we are less likely to be honest about our likes and dislikes, our tendencies and our preferences, our vices and our pet hates. When we don’t like someone, we have no reason to lie to them about how rotten we really are. In fact, we are sometimes quite happy to let them be on the receiving end of the absolute worst of us with no qualms at all.
We think friendship is what happens when someone else likes us, but it’s not. Friendship is what happens to us when we like someone else. Friendship is what happens when we are prepared to get over ourselves. Friendship is what happens when we accept someone else for who they are. It’s possible to be friends with someone who doesn’t like you, but few try. It can be a one way street, and we all naturally want a two way street. But the fact is, all that stands between you and friendship with others, even the people who hate you, can’t stand you and will never forgive you for what you’ve done, and vice versa, is you. You could get over it, even if they chose never to. Or not.
Thank someone you don’t like. Better still, thank someone who doesn’t like you. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can still choose to believe they possess at least as much discernment as you do. Thank them for showing you what you’re really like. The whole reason you don’t like them is exactly because of all your opinions, your experiences, your personal tastes, your prejudices, your fears and your vices. Thank that person who drives you mad. They’re showing you the places in yourself that need work, that need stretching, that need opening up. A friend can’t open you up like that. Only someone who really pisses you off can reveal just what a pain you truly are, despite the way you appear to the world, despite everything you do to try and be civil and sweet and like Jesus. Everyone is an A-hole to some degree. Even Mother Theresa had her enemies. I like to think she even deserved a few of them.
In all likelihood, we don’t deserve half the friends we have, but we probably do deserve at least half of our enemies.