What a sweet thing to say! I do get along with most everyone, although I have been known to lose my cool with magazine-subscription telemarketers and a certain member of our community who holds elected office. There's also a high-school friend, college roommate, ex-boyfriend, and my dad, all of whom decided their lives were better off without me in them.
In the cases of my high-school friend and ex-boyfriend, they were right. But the college roommate and my dad seriously missed out on my wonderfulness.
All those break-ups were very long ago...well over two decades. These days, it takes a pretty serious difference of opinion to set me off. Recently, our Methodist Bible study class got into it over the issue of homosexuality. As you might imagine, opinions ran pretty strong. Pastor took a tolerant ground, I and another student took even more accepting positions, and one person took a very strong stand against. Not once did any of us raise our voices or get nasty, but we all spoke our opinion and listened to the others.
At the end of the class, Pastor announced that she would be on vacation for the next two weeks and asked the student who most disagreed with her to please teach for her. The student is dealing with some health issues, so she asked the guy who argued tolerance to teach the first of the two weeks. Then, during the next week's class, she asked if I would teach the second week because she wasn't sure she could.
That's what Jesus meant when he said, "Love one another as I have loved you." And sometimes, we Christians actually do what He commanded us to do. All four participants in the vigorous debate treated each other with respect and love.
On my way home from the hair appointment today, I was listening to Sirius Radio's 70's channel and Olivia Newton-John's song Have You Ever Been Mellow played. Oh, man. How do I remember all the words to that song? It was so much fun to sing along and annoy the 13-year-old who wanted to listen to Party Rock instead.
One line in the first verse stood out for me: "There was a day when I just had to tell my point of view." We all get like that, don't we? Sometimes we just have to tell our point of view. When we forget that other people have a point of view, too, and that they have good reasons for it (at least to their way of thinking), it's so easy to try to force others to agree with us.
Pinterest comes in handy on this point.
I suspect there are people in my life who think I completely and utterly agree with their point of view in all respects simply because I've never felt the need to argue with them. They are entirely entitled to their opinions, as I am entitled to mine. Rarely do disagreements or arguments result in changed opinions. Our debate on homosexuality at church demonstrated that.
I want to get along with people; I don't want to make them just like me. Besides, even the simplest disagreements have ways of escalating into arguments and knock-down-drag-'em-out fights so very easily. The best way to avoid a fight is not to show up for it.
Besides, it's generally not my job to defend my position. It's my job to love people. Please reference the Jesus quotation above.
With talk television and radio--not to mention the internet--opinions have become news. We've watched government become so polarized by opinion that we simply expect nastiness in all corners of Washington. As we become more and more saturated by media's nastiness, our own civility is being eroded, and our opinions increasingly entrenched. We feel the need to defend our opinions like politicians whose career hangs on them.
But how important in the grand scheme of life, the universe, and everything are all these opinions we hold so strongly?
Sometimes, when someone crosses the line to bigotry or hate or danger or downright evil, we should take a stand, defend the defenseless, speak truth for good.
But how often do we actually encounter those situations when our opinion makes a difference for good? How often are we merely protecting our own arrogant opinion, covering our own insecurity with aggression, or bullying others to agree with us, rather than honestly seeking good?
I wish I knew the answer to that question. I try to pour out grace, love, and forgiveness on those who try to bully me, and (mostly) I succeed. But I also know that at times I start the bad fight myself. Thankfully grace, love, and forgiveness are more powerful than my strongest opinion.
Thank you, Jesus.
What are your secrets for getting along with others? Please share!