driving home from the hospital tonight, wanda and i were doing some of our normal conversational two-step. when we got home, i couldn’t really stop thinking about this bit of wisdom that became all-to-apparent. the common denominator in virtually every conflict…every heartache…every frustration…every joy…every complication…and every satisfaction i have is people.
in case you need some further insight into the nature of people…and some additional help for dealing with people…let me enlighten you with the following truth about people from my vantage point in the social cheap seats:
* people act the way they do for a reason. people don’t wake up some morning and consciously decide to sabotage the relationships they have with friends and family. unhealthy behavior has a source.
* if you want to learn to get along with people, look below the surface. people need to stop “reacting” to bad behavior and work harder at recognizing the reasons why certain behaviors occur in others. it’s the beginning of compassion.
* people are going to fail. miserably, sometimes. we need to give others more and more and more space to fall short. i recognize this can turn into enabling bad behavior, but it’s a risk we need to take frequently. grace in the moment of great failure is an amazing gift to be given.
* we need to give people room to be different…and love them deeply in spite of it. everybody functions differently than you do. some are radically different. embrace the diversity! sometimes people of christian faith are the worst offenders.
we have this tendency to wig out when we are around people of different beliefs and different lifestyles and different politics and different paychecks and different values…as if conversation and interaction were to be based solely on similarity!
why do we have to assume just because someone has a different ideology or a different theology…they are an idiot?
why does different have to mean stupid…or wrong…or worse…or evil? why can’t people just be different…and have those differences be affirmed and respected? even if they stand in direct opposition to what we happen to stand for.
* stop being surprised when people act poorly. anticipate it. prepare yourself for it. have a plan in place for reacting with grace. this is not lowering the bar! this is simply removing the possibility of being caught off guard, so that our reactions can always be in the person’s best interest.
* most conflicts between people happen because we (i, you) have this insatiable need to be “right”. when are we going to grow comfortable with the idea that we are not as smart as we think we are? or that maybe, just maybe, others may have something to teach us…especially the “others” we so strongly disagree with.
on a personal level, i probably disagree with you on a lot of things. take your pick: alcohol…baptism… gun control… speeding… calvinsim…parenting…benevolence…civil rights…the death penalty…the “unforgivable sin”… women’s rights…immigration…the rapture… young/old earth…meds…freedom of speech…abortion…the defense fund… nationalism…church buildings… going to the moon…tithing… homosexuality… divorce…speaking in tongues… forgiveness…hunting…evangelism…the sabbath…lying…premarital sex…life insurance…demon possession…spanking kids…heaven and hell. whew! i’m just getting started on topics.
you think you know what i believe on all those topics? trust me. you don’t. certainly not the whole story. and you know what’s really cool about that? we’re still friends. at least i think we are. i know i am with you.
we can break bread any time. can you, with me? can you, with others?
i hope so.