I had an opportunity to meet some one I took an instant dislike to at a friend’s home recently. Every thing about the man got under my skin. He was loud; he didn’t listen to others when they spoke; he seemed particularly dismissive of women; he was very judgmental, from my perception, and it seemed we had nothing in common. And then I heard him mention he was in recovery. What a difference that piece of information made to me. Why was I so quick to dismiss him at first and then just as quickly forgive him his “apparent” flaws, when I found out we shared the most important of all my values?

This gave me a lot of food for thought over the next few days. I had heard all the cliches, like “you spot it you got it” and every one is a mirror of yourself. I knew that I saw in him some of my own characteristics, particularly those that I abhorred, but what was it that allowed me to instantly see him differently when I found out we both traveled the recovery road? I am not sure I have sorted this out yet, but I do think having the willingness to lay aside my judgments when I want to is an indication that I can lay them aside even when I don’t want to. They have not become hardened in concrete. They are merely hovering over my shoulders until I throw them off. The decision to do so is always as close as my next thought.

What I most realized from this and similar experiences is that this man served as a great “learning partner” for me.  I was willing to cast him aside, not without extreme judgment of course, choosing to believe that he had nothing to offer me when, in fact, his very presence was offering me an awareness that I needed to be reminded of once again: every person is in my face for a reason and the lesson will be learned, if not now, later.

I accept this as a very hopeful awareness. It means that nothing that happens is by chance. Every person who wanders into my life has been called to that moment in time. Isn’t this a glorious concept? Doesn’t it change every past situation that you hated? Doesn’t it shine a new light on every person you meet that you aren’t immediately drawn to? It means we can live free of dread. We can anticipate all that may happen with joy.

Most of us experience times of hopelessness. I have had my share, many even in the early years of recovery. But we are never left to handle our hopelessness alone. If you are in a situation that seems uncomfortable, ask yourself, “Is there something here for me to learn?”