Today, I added “natural medicine” to the list of “Things You Only Talk About To A Select Few”. Politics is obviously right there. You want to lose some friends? Bring up Duterte and Marcos. (Thankfully, religion is something I will not hesitate to talk about. Specifically, my faith in Jesus, because this is THE one topic worth dying (and living) for.) I remember what my pastor told us in church one Sunday, that there are some debatable things worth dying for, and there are some debatable things that you don’t have to win. Drums in church. Unclean meat. Women pastors. Tattoos. All controversial, but not worth losing sleep, friends, or your life over.
Still, I have to admit it does bug me how difficult it is to deal with people. (late-bloomer, eh?) Specifically, realizing how different we all really are. It doesn’t matter whether you both are Christians, or you’ve been friends for a long time, or that you hold shared values and beliefs…there will still be some things you will disagree about, things that people just respond to differently. That’s what makes relationships so beautiful and hurtful at the same time. That’s why in instances like this, where I said something with no other intention but to simply share something I assume would be worth thinking about, and got back an unintended effect, I go back to God’s word (sanity-saver) that teaches me important life lessons:
- Before you react, stop. Be quick to hear, slow to speak… James 1:19
- When you stop before you speak, before you type, clarity takes over the impulse to react. Proverbs 14:29
- With clarity of thought, you clarify the message:
- What do you mean? (Removes misunderstanding, allows you to ask for intention)
- Can you clarify? (Allows you to state your position clearly)
The key, I’m learning, is still communication. It has to remain open and intentional. When people react instead of respond, offenses take place. Instead of reacting, we can ask questions so that the things we do not understand, we understand a little or a lot better. I think this is responsible, mature, and demonstrates integrity.
Also, what comes to mind is how crucial empathy is to making relationships work. If we make it a habit of placing ourselves in another’s position, or better yet, to defer to one another (Philippians 2:3), how different our responses would be!
Unfortunately, many life lessons come as thorns. My naiveté in the protocols of relationships, in the Things You Only Talk About To A Select Few, in the life area conveniently called Experience, temporarily cause me heartache. Things like, “why should people complicate it?” Or, “why must the response be adversarial instead of accommodating?”, or “why not just say, thanks for sharing” nag at me. See? Naive. Experience is indeed the best teacher. Tomorrow I’ll laugh about it. Today, I’m learning. And hopefully I’m a better person for it.