By Kenneth Stepp
When I was a kid, I wasn’t very good at games. As I grew older, I became pretty good at chess, poker, and anything that required thinking deep. Scrabble is one of my favorites. So, later, I adapted and became pretty good at many of the most popular games. The dating game is one I have not been able to learn well enough to stay engaged in at all. Or at least on a steady basis. I know I’m not alone. I watch the comments on my Facebook feed every day. I also have friends who are single. It really is a game, but one without rules and it has no referees. It can be maddening if we allow it to wear us down. One day you are getting to know someone. A couple of days later you learn you somehow crossed an invisible line. The hope you saw with this person is gone forever. Just like that.
“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.”
― Italian proverb
I love that proverb. I believe if we all took it to heart, we’d go a little easier on one another. After all, none of us are more valuable than any of us. We are all equal. Equal in worth at least.
“Everyone is as important as anyone” – Kenneth Stepp.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet most do not live it. The concept of others being as important as ourselves has been lost in a world bound for narcissism. I remember a few years ago I was contacted by a girl in trouble through my nonprofit, she was homeless and her friend was raped and murdered in front of her. When she called me, she had not eaten in three days and she was scared to death. I posted her dilemma online in hopes of maybe getting her some financial help. As I was packing for the five hundred plus mile trip to go help her. My message box was filling up. Questions like, why isn’t her family helping, why is she in this situation, that’s a fool’s errand, etc, etc, etc. It baffled me. All I saw was a frightened little girl who hadn’t eaten in days. I didn’t care about the rest. I knew I could protect her and feed her. Nothing else mattered. Compassion was in order, not a lot of “whys”. They could come later.
I talk of the rescue journey because it’s like all other journeys, it’s all about other people, and people matter. So in the singles arena we are all just people. Most of us are confused, dazed, and have been hurt beyond what any of us believed we could ever tolerate. We are damaged, it is that simple. It is this knowledge that makes me want to be kind to my fellow travelers. None of us are where we want to be. Many of us work far too many hours to make far less than we should. When we were married, we lived in a two income home with someone who was part of our life. We all lost that person. We lost them to death, infidelity, lies, etc. Whatever it was, it hurt. And we pay for that every day. I try to see past the facade and see the person who has been through enough.
Respecting that person is something we all owe one another. How about we alter the game a little? Why not try to make others feel good about themselves instead of disregarding them when we have lost interest. How about being open with how much you value them? Even if you aren’t a romantic match. I can’t tell you how many great friends I have today that began with a date. I like that outcome so much better than blocking, disregarding, and vanishing. My tribe has grown because of this. I say it all the time, “just be nice”. Yes, it’s a game. But it’s one that everyone can win if we respect one another the way we were meant to.
“If the race isn’t over after you have won, then it wasn’t your game!”
― Vishwanath S J