Highest Possibility

I can love you only when I meet you where you are, as you are, and treat you there as if you were where you ought to be. I see you where are, striving and struggling, and in the light of the highest possibility of personality, I deal with you there.

Howard Thurman, The Growing Edge

I came across this quote a while ago and copied it out.

I wrote it again this morning in my journal, thinking about the idea of meeting someone where they are but treating them as if they were where they ought to be.

So, so hard.

In 1949, Howard Thurman wrote a book called Jesus and the Disinherited. It is said that Martin Luther King, Jr. carried two books with him all the time — The Bible and Jesus and the Disinherited.

Thurman was an African-American theologian-mystic-teacher-author. He was raised by his grandmother who had been a slave.

Let that sink in.

We are not far removed from slavery.

Does that change how you read the words of that quote?

How about knowing that he was mistaken for the custodian while he was the dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University? Does that change how you read his words?


It’s been a crap day for me. People close to me have behaved in awful ways. When I wrote those words in my journal this morning, I had no idea how much I would need them this evening.

But if I can just remind myself that those people who are behaving awfully are striving and struggling. I need to seem them in the light of the highest possibility of personality. I need to deal with them there.

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