03-24-15“Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and then place them in their best light.”
– Jennie Jerome Churchill

Shelley, supervisor for a restaurant chain in Yakima, Washington, told Session 6B of the Leadership Development Lab:

“I have not always agreed with the things my sister-in-law says or does. We both have daughters and when I watched how she treats her girls, I made the judgment, quite rightly, to my way of thinking, that she is wrong, quite wrong in her approach. This has put a real strain on our relationship. Knowing there was nothing I could really do about it, I did the next best thing. I avoided going to visit my brother due to this strained relationship. They are clear over in Bellingham anyway. I was going out of my way to find every excuse possible for not going to the other side of the mountains for the family gatherings we all used to look forward to.

“After receiving our ‘Pearl’ assignment at Session 2 of the Leadership Lab, where we chose a person we wanted to improve our relationship with, I decided I needed to fix this relationship rather than continuing to avoid it. Truth is, I wasn’t happy. We had been best of friends when we were first married. It was almost like I was punishing myself with this strategy of isolation. So I went into action. I posted on Facebook how amazing my sister-in-law was for participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk for the Cure for breast cancer. I then surprised my sister-in-law by going to the event and meeting her at one of the cheering stations. I have now taken it one step further by joining her team for next year. I know we will take this amazing journey and mend our relationship together.

“The lesson I have learned from this experience is that relationships can be mended when I make the first move. The action I call you to take is to be the one who makes the first move, who takes the first step. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest cheering station to find something good in the person you have been judging, and then start walking along beside them. It will be an amazing journey all the way home to the renewed relationship you want. The benefit you will gain is peace in your heart, renewed energy and strengthened self-esteem. You will be at home with the people you love.”

This story reminds me of the old adage, “Don’t judge another until you walk a mile in their moccasins.” You and I don’t know the full details of the mothering styles and approaches that these sisters were using. Chances are they’re both pretty good mothers. What we can be sure of is that judging others, cutting off relationships with those we love, is often more hurtful to us than it is to them.

“I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.”
– Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt