My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Newsday tuesday... finding common ground

I've been thinking about mean people a lot lately. It's inevitable that I would come across them... being in a customer service type position that brings me in touch with the general public. And... being very open and vulnerable in sharing my thoughts over the internet... and just, in general, living and breathing in a world filled with discord.

Someone I love very much is being treated unkindly by someone in their every day life. It makes me angry... there's no sense in it.

In fact... I find very little use for confrontation... as there are very few people who are skilled at constructive confrontation. People tend to resort to name calling and meanness instead of giving feedback that will allow room for necessary change. See... if you put someone's character on the defensive they will be so busy defending *WHO THEY ARE* that they won't be able to understand the fault you're finding in *WHAT THEY DO*.

Phrases like, "the tea party can go to hell"... for instance... does that really bring our nation closer together? Does that help resolve any political differences? I think it just makes each side hold more firmly to their beliefs and REFUSE to listen to each other. If you attack someone's character, they're not going to listen to your perspective.

I spoke with a client yesterday who is struggling financially. Part of my job is to call people who are in danger of losing their insurance coverage due to non-payment. I'm good at it because I know - all too well - what it's like to be on the other side of that phone call. I'm compassionate and at times, encouraging. Yesterday was such a time... a woman, like me, single mom with three kids, working two jobs, unable to make ends meet... trying to take care of her disabled sister... and I knew she was discouraged. I shared some of my personal story with her... and she shared with me... and ultimately, although both of us had been through trying times, we were able to encourage one another.

If I had stayed on my high horse of professional licensed insurance agent she would have left feeling embarassed that her credit card was declined... and I suppose, to some degree, I should remain removed from such situations... but I saw the tears forming in her eyes and I knew how she felt! And I told her I knew how she felt... and I shared with her a time or two that I had stood in a check out line doing mental arithmetic trying to determine if I needed to put something back. I met her where she was... financially challenged... discouraged... and sought to bring her up to where, by the grace of God, I am right now (at the moment, always subject to change).

This blog is like that, or at least I hope it is. If I share my open, honest and vulnerable heart with you, right or wrong, if I am willing to be transparent... you may see yourself in my words. You might disagree with some of my politics or my faith... but sooner or later... you're going to see character traits or experiences or feelings that you can identify with. We'll find ourselves on common ground. And once we're on common ground, we can have a civilized discussion in a non-threatening way about the things that we disagree about... the things that make us different.

This same lady is teaching a Sunday School class of "misfits"... a few kids with Asperger's... a kid with paranoid schizophrenia... a gay teenager... these are all kids who haven't been able to find a place in the church where they feel accepted. What an amazing and compassionate thing for her to do! She brought all these kids who were feeling unwelcome in the church for their differences... and she gave them a common ground where they could meet... and although their issues are all different... they have a common disappointment of not feeling accepted. Probably, to her credit, the most wonderful thing she's doing with this group is not attempting to criticize or change them... she just shows them the love of Christ.

Whether you are a believer in Christ or think Christianity is a bunch of hooey... it's impossible to escape the reality that "you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar"... and without a doubt, I know that my child feels accepted at our church because of the abundance of kindness that he - and I - have both been shown. We're willing to listen to what the church has to say because the church has not attacked us for who we are or what we do... it has kindly, lovingly, modeled a more excellent way.

It's something to think about... you're never going to shout anyone down from their position... but you might be able to speak softly so that they incline their ear to hear what you have to say.

The wonder pill that I thought had put me on the road to being pain free... well, notsomuch. Yesterday was a relapse of sorts... by mid afternoon I couldn't straighten up. Again. It's discouraging. I had some other discouraging news yesterday... a policy I sold didn't come back at the price I quoted... that always bums me out. It was a busy day and I was exhausted by the time I got home. Austin fixed pork chops on the grill for dinner... I fixed rice for me and cheesy noodles with broccoli for him... and was asleep before 8.

God, give me the strength for another day... and give me the compassion to see the person, not the problem... and to show them enough love that they are willing to hear my words. May we all face the world with fewer accusations and more kindness...

Have a good day, y'all.