Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Lesson I'll Never Forget


A few weeks back a friend of mine called to ask me why I had made a suggestion to her when we were last together.  She knew me well enough to ask before jumping to conclusions.  I told her that I had seen this idea work really well for someone else and I was just trying to be helpful.  She said that she thought that was the case, but proceeded to explain how her mind was telling her something else.  She had taken that suggestion to mean that I did not like the way she was doing things and that she was wrong.  She was so wise in asking.  She knew something that I had to learn the hard way last year.  That is to say that we don't think and process things exactly the same.  God created us to be unique.  So why is this lesson so invaluable to me?  Let me tell you a little story.

The setting:  a rather heated conversation between me and a woman we'll call "Barb" (not her real name).  Barb and I are about as different as two women can be, yet still share the same faith.  An undeniable tension loomed over us whenever we were together.  (Do you know someone like this?)  I do something that irritates her or she does something that gets on my nerves and, before long, we end up avoiding each other.  It’s not always that bad when we see each other; but, on this particular occasion I had gotten so upset that I knew we had to talk about it.  Through tears and frustration we both realized that we had been assuming the worst about each other.  I can admit to having thoughts cross my mind like:
            “She said that because she thinks I’m a bad housekeeper,”
            “She really meant I’m a horrible mother,”
            “She thinks she is so much better than I am,” and
“She must really hate me.”
The fact is that Barb and I were both choosing to believe some wrong assumptions.  We were constantly  assuming we knew what was going on in the other’s mind.  In reality, we are just two very different personality types and unless we are able to read each other's minds, we will never totally understand what the other is thinking or believing.    My motivations are not even remotely similar to Barb's.  I am motivated by fun and bringing joy to people.  She is motivated by a drive for perfection and likes serving people behind the scenes.  She enjoys housekeeping while I dread it.  She has a quiet spirit and I, on the other hand,  am very outspoken.  Barb leans toward feelings of insecurity, while I tend to struggle with pride. 

 Are you beginning to get the picture?  Anyway, when God finally got through my thick skull, He showed me that Barb was not constantly judging me.  I learned that, if I allowed myself, I could actually benefit from understanding our differences.  Today I can truly say that I am grateful that God placed her in my life so that I can now better understand those around me.  All bitterness toward Barb has melted away.  I don’t know if our chat did the same for her (I pray so) but I can now thank God for her and pray for her in a whole new way. 

Now here's the ironic, totally unexpected twist… my daughter thinks very much like Barb thinks!  How could I ever have hoped to understand my daughter (who is going into her teen years) if I hadn’t first learned this invaluable lesson?

“Now you [collectively] are Christ's body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].”        1 Corinthians 12:27   (Amplified Bible)

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”       Romans 12:18 (NIV)  

*I would  be remiss if I didn’t give some recognition here to Mark Gungor, a pastor and public speaker, who presented four different personality types at a marriage conference I attended last year.  That is when  the pieces of the puzzle came together for me.  To find materials for discovering your personality type, or that of your children and spouse, check out his website @ http://www.laughyourway.com/what-motivates-you

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