I have been reading and listening and watching how people disagree with each other (which reminds me that my ex-husband scolded me for using each other instead of one another, or vice versa, at one point. I still don’t know which is correct, and frankly, on this one, I don’t care).
Mary in Africa reminded me the other day that walking away with a self-satisfied smirk on your face is not really all that respectful. I had done that very thing the day before. When she wrote about it, I remembered how I felt when my former husband had done that to me. As if I weren’t worth the time or effort to have a difficult conversation. As if he already knew that I had nothing of merit to say, so he didn’t want to hear it.
We in “recovery” are perhaps the worst at this. We tend, maybe more than others, to name-call and label. Calling someone “toxic,” “dry-drunk,” “racist,” “sexist,” “liberal,” “conservative,” “homophobe,” etc., does not add any value to a conversation. If I label you, then I can dismiss you. I don’t need to listen to you because I have already decided you are of limited intelligence or inferior motives.
Most of my best friends are of a political mind that is 180 degrees from mine. We can respectfully talk with each other. We can find what we DO agree on. We can find common ground from which to start. Sometimes it took a lot of work to get where we are. We did not walk away. We did not dismiss the other. We worked at it. We pushed back at our anger and tried to LISTEN. We do not have to agree on everything. But we can find agreement in some things.
We do not place the way we feel above all other things. We have learned that sometimes life is difficult and uncomfortable – and that is when we can learn an awful lot.
I am so grateful for what I have learned while trying to live by a set of principles. The second ten years were revolutionary for me. The third ten years are turning out to be as well, but in a quieter way. I am glad I haven’t decided I know everything. Life is changing and evolving.
God continually puts people, places, and things in my life that I can decide to learn from or walk away from. I hope to continue to plug away at this thing.
It has been awfully good so far.
May the spoken words of my mouth, the thoughts of my heart, win favor in your sight, O Lord. — Ps 19:15