My husband invited me to meet him for lunch this week. He told me about a new place in our neighborhood that he thought I might like. We happen to live in a very colorful and ethnically diverse area; so local dining can either be an exotic adventure to a foreign coast, or something more along the lines of global gastric suicide. One can never be sure. The fact that my husband teased me about “goat” being on the menu did not improve my outlook on our date, but I braved it anyway.
The truth was, I knew that he had been struggling with discouragement and was facing some significant challenges at work. He was so out of sorts, that it had become difficult to know how to help him, and somewhat frustrating to be around him. We were both overwhelmed and needed a break.
I arrived at the restaurant to find him waiting for me. Today it would be Middle Eastern fare. Much to my relief, the restaurant was clean and “Americanized” enough to put me at ease. There were tablecloths on the tables, nice décor, and a friendly waitress greeted us. I appreciated that the owner had tried to make the atmosphere comfortable for the native locals, as well as the Middle Eastern regulars. Clearly he was doing his best to represent his culture and cuisine in a way that everyone could enjoy.
My husband ordered an appetizer of hummus and fresh pita bread, which was unusually good. Fresh baked pita is a world apart from the grocery store variety. We then set out to explore the menu. Kabobs, gyros, falafels, roasted tomatoes, rice, lentil soup… all the delicacies of the region were available. At my husband’s suggestion, I ordered a Teka platter, while getting a pronunciation lesson (requested) from the waitress. “Thick t”, she said, “Tech – ah.” As it turned out, it was a pleasant dining experience for me. The food was delicious, and I was relieved.
For my husband, however, the experience was less than satisfying. Although his food was quite good, I had taken it upon myself to lecture him a bit about his attitude and state of mind. I could see my words were only increasing his pain, not inspiring him as I had hoped.
After our date, I reflected on my motivation for the lecture. Under the guise of helping, I had really just relieved some of my own frustration. It wasn’t good. While I firmly believe that there is a time and place for loving confrontation, sometimes what is needed is an extra serving of goodness, some more patience, a little more love and a lot more understanding. We have to reach across the “cultural divide” and go out of our way to make the other person feel accepted and cared for, just as our Middle Eastern host had done that day. Why? Because when a person feels loved and accepted, they can relax and trust…and when they can trust, then they can heal.
“Goodness reaches out to build a bridge, then is brave enough to cross it.”
A Good Idea :
Is there a someone in your life who could use a little more love and understanding? Are you willing to build a bridge to get to them? Building trust is the best way to build a healthy relationship. Let Goodness lead you…