The weekend before Christmas, my best friend’s 94-year-old grandmother passed away. Mimi—as I had known her—was beloved by her very large family of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and more who gathered at her bedside for days before she slipped into eternity late Saturday night.
I’d met Mimi many times, and I’d heard a lot of stories about her life, some from my best friend, and a few from Mimi herself. The oldest of five siblings, she was born in 1921 in Oklahoma and was raised during the depression by a single mother. She went on to marry a soldier who fought in World War II, and while he was at war, she gave birth to a baby with special needs. She buried that little boy not many years later. You can imagine some of the hardships Mimi endured during her 94 years. Her stories are legendary. Somewhere along the way, she learned to overcome trials most of us could barely comprehend.
More impressive than her stories, though, was the way she told them. No matter how dark the tales, Mimi had a way of sharing them that made her listeners smile.
I can’t be sure, but I suspect Mimi knew something a lot of us never learn—that not everything was about her. She was able to separate herself from the hardships, the trials, and the people who’d hurt her. The trials made her stronger. And the people who’d been unkind—they had problems, no doubt, but the problems weren’t Mimi’s. They weren’t her fault, and they weren’t her responsibility.
So often, it seems we take the bad behavior of others personally. When the check-out woman at the supermarket is surly, we get defensive. Imagine if we could separate ourselves the way Mimi did. We could offer the surly check-out gal a genuine smile. We could cheerfully respond to the irritated bank clerk. We could wave at the impatient driver. If we could learn that not everything is about us, we might be kinder the people we interact with every day.
And the world would be a better place of course, but it wouldn’t just affect others. Mimi was immeasurably kind and generous to the people around her, because she was so full of joy herself. She’d adopted an attitude of grace and carried a joyful and peaceful disposition. Despite her life’s many difficulties, betrayals, and tragedies, Mimi was genuinely happy.
Among other things, I resolve in 2016 to stop letting my trials rule my life. And I resolve to stop taking other people’s attitudes and behavior personally. I want to wear a garment of kindness, grace, and peace, so that I can overflow with joy the way Mimi did.
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its FREE prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.