If I started the phrase "When people show you who they are...," how would you finish it?
If you have ever listened to the great Maya Angelou, you are very familiar with her famous phrase and you no doubt know the ending. But just in case you don't, read this short story a friend of mine emailed a few days ago.
"A woman was in her cabin in the middle of a terrible snowstorm when she heard a feeble scratching at her door. She opened it to see a half-frozen rattlesnake on her doorstep begging to be let in from the bitter cold.
The woman said to the snake, “I’m not going to let you in! You’re a rattlesnake and you’re going to bite me!” “No, I won’t,” hissed the snake. “Just bring me in and get me warm and I’ll be your friend for life.”
Well, the woman let the snake come in and even allowed it to rest upon her chest by the fire to get warm. When the snake was completely comfortable, it bit the woman on the neck.
As she was dying, the woman said, “But you promised you wouldn’t bite me and would be my friend for life.”
The snake calmly replied, “But you knew I was a snake when you let me in.”
This story, while short and seemingly simplistic, is a great example of how we often choose to ignore the obvious. We see the signs and know the inherent dangers, yet something in us wants to believe it will be different this time. Just as snakes, people will eventually reveal their true nature, good or bad.
All the while my children were living at home, I would often find the need to repeat the famous Maya Angelou quote. "When people show you who they are, believe them" and respond accordingly.