The People You’re Not Exactly Nuts About


I’m not liking people very much lately.


It’s not all people, but a healthy chunk. And those in that chunk who had already bugged me before “lately”? They really bug me a lot right now. I blame it mostly on the train wreck that has been 2020. There are just so many topics to bicker about. So many choices!


On her podcast, Nadia Bolz-Weber talked about unlikely angels—those people you’re not exactly nuts about who plop down into your life and teach you stuff.  She said, “I don’t get to choose what strangers come into my life and say what I need to hear. There’s never been an Angel Catalogue. Because if we got to choose our messengers, I’m pretty sure we’d get it wrong.”


I think we can substitute strangers for people we’re not exactly nuts about. Yeah, I think that might even improve my point, because it’s often the people we do know that push our buttons.


The people I’m not exactly nuts about have something to teach me if I’ll just listen.

The people I’m not exactly nuts about have something to teach me if I’ll just listen.

The people I’m not exactly nuts about have something to teach me if I’ll just listen.


We’ve all heard the saying, Don’t shoot the messenger.


I’m going to tell you a secret, so mums: 98.9999% of the time, when someone is telling me something I’m not nuts about hearing, here’s my default: I’m not truly listening with the goal of understanding. I’m all talk to the hand. I’m mostly looking for holes in their argument and putting together my brilliant, winning response. I’m not putting my feet in their shoes. And I know why. Because—from experience—I know if I put my tootsies in their shoes—like really imagine things from their perspective—I see things differently and my brilliant, winning response is just not so much brilliant and winning. It’s kind of ugly.


In order for me to be teachable, I have to consciously decide (however gently and secretly) not to ax the messenger.


I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you most likely do the same.


But I could be wrong.


I’m not a math genius but I really want to rearrange the dot that’s in my 98.9999 %.


With so many divergent opinions right now, we have ample opportunity to be taught something we need to know by an unlikely angel.


Chances are the very things about the person I’m not exactly nuts about, are also in me.


Eckhart Tolle said it: “Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”


That’s super Biblical. God has plenty to say about the concept of You spot it, you got it.


–But knowing something in my head and applying it out from my heart can be miles apart.


Oh, how I’d love to get to the place where I can say, “it’s not my default.”


The unlikely angel, John Coffey in “The Green Mile” uttered these words, “I’m tired, boss. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.”


Boss, help me to spot the ugly in myself first. Help me to have eyes to see, ears to hear, to welcome all unlikely angels in order for me to learn something true today.



Romans 2:1, Luke 6:42, Proverbs 20:12




“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
― Pema Chödrön


“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
― Pema Chödrön


“…nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know…nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. but what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. it just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
― Pema Chödrön,


“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”
― Pema Chödrön


“We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who’s right and who’s wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don’t like about our associates or our society.

It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others….Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.”
― Pema Chödrön