You can probably tell by the name of this blog that I am not confortable with conflict or confrontation. Coexisting appeals to me, in part, because I lived through a few horrific years of conflict and rage. In those years I became quite adept at expressing my anger, then I learned, I grew and I had to depend on God's healing to go on living a productive life. I intend to never go there again. I had to be done with anger.
Judgment is often a precursor to conflict. It is difficult to be at peace when your mind is focused on the weakness, opposing opinions or wrongdoings of other. This year I found it difficult to deal with those that had vehement political beliefs that I did not share. I was completely okay with their beliefs, but they weren't okay with mine. I did not voice my opinions in order to avoid the conflict or hurt feelings it may have caused.
I'm not sure that was a good solution. How do you deal with social situations when people are critical or judgmental of you, what you believe, or what you choose to do with your life? When you are constantly hearing pejorative remarks about yourself and your interests - how do you react? I am always blindsided by comments like you must have too much time on your hands or you need to get a life or something else that infers that my interests in writing, blogging or any other creative endeavor I choose to pursue is a waste of time. I feel foolish when I have no comeback for these comments even though it happens at every get-together. I don't anticipate being put-down because I do not concern myself with what others choose to do with their life.
At work I often encounter teachers that compare how much work others have or how hard (or not) they are working. I never think about what another teacher is doing - I have enough to worry about with my own job, let alone someone elses! I assume everyone is doing their best.
In these social situations (that I hope to enjoy) I suppose I can continue to take the negative comments that feel like a slap in the face and turn the other cheek for the next slap. But I have a relentless and annoying need to understand why. Am I offensive in some way? Are they trying to boost themselves up by putting me down? Is it a joke and I don't get the punch line? Do they truly think so little of me? Any advice out there in the blogosphere?
Coexisting includes allowing others to have differing opinions and not be enraged by them. Coexisting allows others to make their own life choices without judging them. I certainly have not always lived up to these standards, but the older I get the easier it seems to let others be as they are. It is not my concern. Jesus accepted, befriended and loved the sinners in His path with no conditions. I am not even close to that ideal, but I am working on it. I find that allowing others to have their own opinions and live the way they see fit is freeing. I no longer carry the burden of judgment. That is God's job, not mine. And His world would be a boring place if we all did and thought alike.
During the Presidential campaign, the reporters could not wait to get Obama's comments on the newly revealed pregnancy of Sarah Palin's unwed teenage daughter - I loved and admired his comment, which I think is the essence of coexisting, even in competition when he could have slammed the Palin family.
He simply said - "My mother had me when she was eighteen years old."
That's coexisting peacefully.