I've come to believe that to know someone is to love them. Some may say that there are definitely people whom they no longer love after getting to know them, and I can understand and respect that. Deceitful people do exist in this world, and I've had my fair share of similar experiences. For me, however, the most common scenario is that I grow in a deeper love for the other person as a sister, a brother, a fellow human, when I truly get to know them.
One summer I ended up in a situation living with a young woman who was toward the bottom on my list of desirable roommates. I generally had a difficult time around her because she was very sarcastic, negative, condescending towards others, and quite arrogant. I tried to be positive and optimistic in the weeks leading up to her entrance into our house, but I have to be honest ‐ it was pretty forced.
Thankfully, some of the other associated friends of hers weren't going to be around (we all know how the mob mentality works). Needless to say, I had a few difficult moments during that month. But something else happened as well. I actually got to know her. Now, don't get me wrong. I knew her before. I just didn't know her. I had never had the opportunity to learn that we both absolutely love spicy foods. I didn't know that she knew how to make the most heavenly homemade buffalo chicken dip. I didn't know that she was actually the most generous person I had met, and that I would end up hardly lifting a finger or spending a dime when we hung out. I didn't know that she was hilarious when she wasn't being negative and sarcastic, or that she hated the subject of history.
I didn't know that our patio table actually did make more sense on the back porch until she just decided to move it herself, even though it was sitting on the front porch for at least five years. I didn't expect that, of all my friends I've lived with, I would have an impromptu 90's pop dance party with her. I didn't know that she had been emotionally and romantically strung along by a guy who definitely should have known better. I didn't know that same guy was still trying to manipulate her. I didn't know the reasons behind her return to past habits and sins, and I definitely didn't know that she would end up sharing them with me.
Did we become best friends? No. Did it excuse hurtful things she has said or done? Of course not. But I can say that I got to know her a little bit more than before, and for that I definitely learned to love her as a sister, as another young woman trying to find her way in this crazy world. I think it's safe to say I learned to love her for the same reasons God loves me ‐ for being imperfect, broken, and lost and still seeking Him anyway.
I share this because I know I'm not the only one who has this kind of story. Each one of us has people in our lives who fit some variation of this example, but sometimes it's just a hard struggle to see God's plan. Why do certain people act like they do? Why are they part of my life? Thankfully, this is where the gift of knowledge comes in.
Pope Francis tells us the following:
"[The gift of knowledge] enlightens our human perspective and helps us to see God in the whole of
creation. [It] puts us in tune with God’s gaze on things and on people...Through this spiritual gift, we
are enabled to see every person, and the world around us, in the light of God’s loving plan.”
The great news here is that we can ask the Holy Spirit for this gift ‐ to help us see things better in light of His love! All God's creation ‐ nature and humanity ‐ is full of a beauty that points towards God. We did not create it and are not fully in control of it; therefore, we do not have the right to look upon anything or anyone with disrespect. In short, this gift of knowledge helps us to see others as gifts and to perceive God's love in the world.
Is there a person in your life with whom you have a hard time loving? What is blocking the way? What do you think God's plan might be for you and this person? Are you able to see the beauty in all of God's creation, regardless of your environment, neighborhood, house, etc.?
Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my heart, that I may see the things that are of God.
Come Holy Spirit, into my mind that I may know the things that are of God.
Come Holy Spirit, into my soul, that I may belong only to God.
Sanctify all that I think, say, and do, that all may be for the glory of God.