There are some things I have known and liked for as long as I can remember, such as stories;
there are some things that I was not always acquainted with but that I liked from the moment I met them, such as wandering city streets with my husband; there are some things I never liked and never particularly want to, such as small talk; there are some things that I liked, and learned to dislike, and learned to like again, such as the color pink; there are some things that I liked once and I now do not, such as chewing gum; and there are some things which I did not always like but now I do, for various reasons.
I shall tell you about twelve of these things that I have learned to like, because while I know that liking something does not actually matter that much, it does make life more pleasant; and it gives me hope to know that I can learn to like things that I now do not. Also, because making lists is fun for me.
- Eating: When I think about things that I learned to like the first thing that comes to mind is food, because there are so many different foods that I didn’t always like. Black coffee, any kind of meat, dry wine, mushrooms, anything with nuts in it, salads, cooked peppers, gravy, cake, bananas, salad dressing, peanut butter…because, in fact, I just didn’t like eating at all. What changed my mind? A husband who thinks food is one of the most precious gifts we’ve been given. That kind of enthusiasm is contagious. I don’t fancy all foods even now, but I do enjoy the practice of eating more than I ever did before.
- Humans: I never really hated humans in the abstract, but the reality of them is much more difficult. I almost always ended up disappointed in my interactions with people, partly because I lacked social skills, partly because people are seldom the best versions of themselves, but mostly because I was looking for something in them that no human could give me. After I was married, it bothered the husband a lot that I did not like people, and for his sake I really tried. Between him and a woman named Dani, I learned how to have conversations with people, but it didn’t really work for me because I didn’t really like the people, no matter how much I tried. Turns out this time it wasn’t my mind that needed changing, and I couldn’t change my heart. It wasn’t until Father gave me a new heart that I suddenly found myself capable of liking people. I’m still not a huge fan of crowds and probably never will be, but now I can easily like the individuals in them.
- Finances: I only disliked finances and the art of bookkeeping because I didn’t understand them and they didn’t make me curious enough for me to make any effort to learn about them. Until suddenly it became my job to understand them. So because I had to, I learned how to work with finances, to track where they came and went, to balance books, and when I learned that, I also learned that doing it was a delight to me.
- The scent of burning tobacco leaves: Confession: I probably put this in here mostly to make people wonder what is wrong with me. But, it’s also true. I like the scent of cigarette smoke, not stale, but fresh on the evening air. There’s something so raw and gritty real-life about it, and it also takes me back to a patio in a Seoul alley, to the taste of frozen Greek yogurt and the sound of K-pop, to the feeling of another world.
- Being me: Just to be clear: I’m not contradicting the Bible here; I have always loved myself, I have always wanted good things for myself. But I also grew up feeling convinced that everyone, including my daddy, would like me better if I was more like my older sister: outgoing, capable of carrying a conversation with literally anyone, fond of singing, self-controlled, hardworking, kind, talkative, blonde. But while I’m capable of some of those things, I am never going to be her. I am also not a fan of playing hopeless games. I quit. I would be something else entirely. And, as it turns out, I am. And eventually I realized that most people, including my daddy, actually do not want me to turn into my sister. But I really started liking being me when I started choosing to do and be things that I like when people do and are. In some ways, I like myself less than ever, because my self is honestly a mess and just really does need Jesus. But I still love myself and I do enjoy being me.
- Housework: I’ve been doing housework for as long as I can remember, because I come from a culture where cleanliness is important and housework is a feminine role. But I always found it a rather dull chore, until after I was married and I got a day job. Now, traditional Mennonites disapprove of a married woman having a day job. Ostensibly this is because of the whole keepers at home thing, but I think they fear that once a woman takes a day job she will never again be satisfied to be a ‘keeper at home’, because they don’t truly believe that being a keeper of the home is a valuable and fulfilling work. I disagree. Nothing taught me the pleasure and beauty of taking care of our house like having a five-days-a-week job.
- Wearing glasses: I have three older sisters. Each in their turn, they all got eyeglasses quite young, and then when they were teenagers, they switched to contacts. I was in the third grade when I got my first pair of glasses, and I expected to follow their path and switch to contacts five or six years later. Somehow, my daddy seemed unwilling to buy me contacts. I took it personally, as I took everything at that point, but eventually I embraced my inner nerd and the glasses which matched. It helped to realize that apparently my daddy liked my appearance with glasses better than without. It also helped when one of my sister’s guy friends told her I was cute with my glasses. It helped even more that the husband likes my glasses. I do actually have contacts now, but I seldom wear them. I like my glasses.
- Politics: Not sure this should actually be on this list. I don’t actually like politics. I used to find them boring and despicable, and therefore I ignored them. I still find them despicable, but now I also find them fascinating though I do not follow them closely or pretend to understand them. Human games are curious to watch, and believing as I do that what we know is only a fraction of the whole truth makes them only more so. I blame this change of mind on the husband’s influence.
- Running: Full disclosure: I possibly hate running. But I do very much like to have run. Before husband I never did much of it, but he turned out to be the kind of person who ran eight miles on the daily and twenty miles on Saturdays so I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually be introduced to the practice. I have never run twenty miles. Yet. And sometimes when we’re running and I’ve been silently wanting to die for the last mile and a half, and I finally make a moan and his response is, “Come on, it doesn’t count until it starts hurting,” then I want to kick him. But despite how weak I still am in this, already I know that there’s something powerful about forcing your body to keep moving when it wants you to believe it cannot, and something even better about finally reaching home and collapsing on the cement, shaking and panting and sweating and nauseated. Sheer exhaustion has its delights.
- Reading the Bible: For the first part of my life I had too large a SHOULD in my mind to actually be able to enjoy reading the Bible. And at the same time, neither my mind nor my heart was well-developed enough for me to understand and appreciate it. Once our Father developed my heart, my mind woke up. And I love that book. Even if you don’t believe in God, it’s so full of wisdom and truth; principles that just work. From a literary point of view, it’s such beautiful writing. Even with all that must be lost in translation, it’s beautiful, and that is a miracle in itself. Not gonna lie, I still have to battle that religious spirit of obligation and condemnation. And sometimes my mind wants to be more lazy than learning. But…I do love that book. And that fact means much to me.
- People who hurt my feelings: I don’t actually enjoy having my feelings hurt, because, surprisingly, it hurts. But I went to school with a boy who could have been the poster-child for the word blunt. What he thought, he said, and sometimes it was kind and sometimes it wasn’t. I didn’t always like him, but eventually I realized that I trusted him. We weren’t especially friends but I trusted him to tell the truth to my face, rather than do that thing where you say nice things where I can hear you and your actual, less-pleasant opinion where I can’t. When you have people in your life who you cannot trust to do that, the ones who you can become quite precious. To this day, I may feel pain if you’re more honest than polite to me, but I will always like and trust you far more than if you’re only ever nice to me.
- Roses: I am not a fan of the cliché. I used to dislike roses on principle because they are the most cliché of flowers, and I still regard red roses with a certain measure of disinterest. And people always insist on smothering a rose with more roses, or some other flowers, or at the very least, baby’s breath. But bouquets of flowers make me sigh, bouquets of roses make me sigh twice, and bouquets of twelve red roses make me sigh three times. I believe that flowers are like people in that you can only truly appreciate the depth of their beauty when you see them alone- or at most, in groups of two or three. Only a master can combine more in a way that complements the beauty of all, rather than putting the focus on two or three of the noisiest and making the rest fade into bored obscurity. But a dried pink rose speaks of something sweet and forgotten, and a yellow rose is the flower of one of my favorite friends, and a white rose is elegantly beautiful, living or dead.
Your turn. What is one thing which you did not always like, and what changed your mind about it?