Sunday, April 17, 2011

If It Is Possible

When we have conflicts with others, there is a level of stress which comes along with the division and strife, and makes us question our own motives and wonder if we are doing the right thing. I was feeling despair over something recently, and I had a tiny snippet of scripture pop into my head, as a carry-over from some long ago Sunday School class. It was "Live at peace with everyone."

This deepened my sense of misery, for I added guilt in to my own mix of volatile emotions, as I realized that I was attempting to live peacefully with others, but it wasn't working out that way in a few situations. Before I sharpened up my boundaries with my counselor last month, they were so permeable and formless; designed to make others happy at all costs and most of the time, my own needs got lost in the process. I felt like I offended people less with this set of guidelines, but in coming to terms with my own needs and trying to access a level of personal and emotional authenticity, I was inadvertently hurting others.

After stewing in my bad feelings for awhile, I grabbed my Bible and looked up the passage I was thinking of in Romans 12:18. Much to my delight, I discovered that the entire verse reads like this: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." If we have boundaries, and are confident about the reasons why we do the things we do, it is not always possible to live at peace with everyone.

I am only responsible for my side of any human interaction. If it is possible, I want to get along with people and never hurt others or be hurt. But where my desires contradict someone else's, conflict rises up between us, and there may be discord. It's not a comfortable feeling to have others angry with you for any reason, but it's a big part of the human experience we are all living through.

My days of contorting backwards to make sure no one else hurts are over. I am now working on living my life with as much love and kindness as possible, but I'm standing up for my boundaries and decisions, and recognizing the gospel truth that I will not always make other people happy. I'm learning to live with the fall-out from this way of existing. I have embraced who I really am, and am not hiding that person from the world, but not everyone likes who I am, and I will not go back to pretending to be someone else to grease the wheels of human contact.

It is a new thing for me, and will take practice to find my way. I make more mistakes now, and there is some collateral damage which did not exist before in my relationships. I'm sorry for any hurt that others experience as a result of my boundaries and values. I will apologize for what is mine to own, but I will not pretend to be anyone other than who I am to make someone else feel better. Being genuine is the top order of business for me now, and however easy it might be to slide back into some of my old patterns, I am fighting against them, and will continue to do so as long as I am alive.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on me, I will live at peace with everyone, but I will not obsess over what I cannot control, and will accept that just because others don't agree with my decisions doesn't mean I don't have the right to make them. We all have to live with the consequences of our actions and attitudes. I'm trying to be more intentional and aware of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, because I know I have to live with the results, either positive or negative.

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