I remember thinking that these were basically the coolest people in the world, and that every person that I met there was just fascinating. I would go back to college so pumped and excited that I knew such amazing humans.
Then, a few summers after I was done working there, I was looking at the pictures and reminiscing about them, and I was thinking, THAT GIRL WAS AMAZING! THAT GUY WAS SO AWESOME! I LOVED THAT GUY! OH! REMEMBER HER? SHE WAS SO INCREDIBLE! RIGHT? REMEMBER THAT?
As I looked through those pictures, I remember being a little bummed because I was missing these awesome people. Well, I mean, I did have friends. It wasn't like I was bereft of happiness. But I thought, WHERE ARE THESE REALLY REALLY AWESOME PEOPLE in my life? Why didn't everyone else in the world have that special sparkle that these friends had? Couldn't we all just get in touch again and start a neighborhood together somewhere and just live next door to each other and..... and...
...and then I realized it.
I realized that when we went to that camp, we went there EXPECTING PEOPLE TO BE AWESOME.
We went there absolutely certain that we were going to meet and hang out with amazing people. We didn't expect people to be boring, or superficial, or strange, or anything. We expected awesomeness unabated.
It was right then with the photo album in my lap that I realized that, in fact, awesome people were all around. I realized that by expecting them to be so, by looking for and thinking about and pondering on the great things about them, they became even more awesome. I realized that, back at our camp, by telling people how awesome they were and by talking about them to others in this way, we unwittingly built a culture of people who loved to be together.
See, this is real community. Sure, every one of these people were imperfect, and they still are (chief of them, me). Some of them were annoying (me?), some of them were a little crazy (also me?), some of them didn't make the wisest decisions (definitely me). But by choosing the awesome parts to simmer on and live within, we smothered the little, petty, divisive criticisms of one another until they almost weren't even there anymore.
So I put the photo album down and started living this way and expecting awesomeness in the people I knew. Becoming fascinated with them. Learning their story. Reveling in their little details. Glossing over their little idiosyncrasies. And not surprisingly, awesome people popped up left and right.
But up until recently, I had allowed some selfishness to overtake the awesome. A good friend reminded me, "Ali, if you're going to be continually critical of this person and that person and this gal and that guy in these little regards, pretty soon there aren't going to be any perfect people left." Whoa, humility, hello and welcome.
I realized again that I want to see people in the way that they were created to be seen. I want to speak truth into their lives when invited. I want to point them to their purpose. I want to love them the way that I've been loved by the One who knows me best.
Because I want more awesome people in my life. Don't you?
And now we know where to start.
Look left, look right.