I woke up thinking about a quote I loved from The Great Gatsby. I read these words back in 9th grade and thought they were such a picture of loving someone. Here, we read a description of Jay Gatsby and the way he looked at the narrator:
He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
When I think about believing the best about other people, about loving them well, and about believing in them, I remember this character. I think about it when I’m with children, especially. I like the idea of concentrating exclusively on someone in the moment with that irresistible favor, understanding, and ability to see their best self. I’ve known a few people like this in my lifetime. When you’re talking with them, you feel seen, adored, deeply valued, loved, and understood. You feel like you like yourself more when you are with them.
As I researched my new book on having better conversations, I learned how vital positive regard is (or believing the best about others) as the foundation of warm connections. I want God to make me into the type of person who lets the love of Jesus flow this beautifully to someone else so they feel as loved as our narrator when Jay looked at him.