This week I was confronted by a neighbor who stated that she felt I was driving too fast in the neighborhood. I calmly listened to her dissertation and complaints. For the sake of being neighborly, I did not defend my actions. This was despite the fact that I know exactly how fast I am driving because I check my speedometer. I know that I’m within the legal limits. However there was some validity to her complaint. She expressed concern about more elderly neighbors that were walking on the streets and a blind corner. She was worried that perhaps I might not see my neighbors when I turned the corner if I was driving too fast. It was a valid concern.

I was distressed by the felt need to confront me. However I was impressed that this neighbor was courageous enough to do so. If I had attempted to defend myself, this situation could have caused a great deal of conflict between us. In fact, things could have escalated in resulting difficult relationships between me and a number of neighbors. I chose to take the high road, bit my tongue, and apologized. I have since decided to take a different route that does not include driving past the blind corner. In this way I avoid further potential conflict with my neighbors.

In another situation, I had the experience where I felt that a person had breached my confidentiality. I had shared with this person certain secrets about a struggle that I was going through in my life. This person decided to publicly pray for me regarding these issues. Her intentions were probably pure, but the result was embarrassing for me. These were not secrets that I had wanted to share with others.

When I attempted to confront this person about her breach of confidentiality, she brushed me off. She didn’t want to discuss it. She thought she was right and dismissed my hurt feelings.  She thought that I just wanted to argue about this, when in reality I simply wanted to discuss my feelings on the issue and clarify my understanding of confidentiality. I wanted to work through the conflict. Unfortunately she didn’t. I was saddened that our relationship would probably be forever be marred by this incident.

Life is full of potentially conflicting situations. Our perceptions of things are rarely the same as the perceptions of others. If we want valuable relationships, it is important that we take the time to listen to others. We may not agree with everything that they have to say, but arguing about a difference of opinion rarely accomplishes anything. Sometimes these differences can teach us about another aspect of life that we hadn’t considered. Life seen through another person’s eyes can be enlightening. Listening to others helps us look at our own shortcomings, and helps us to evaluate our lives. Trying to understand how and why others feel the way they do helps us to be more compassionate. This is all part of human growth process.  Rather than get angry about the situation, it’s important that we look at these situations as opportunities for growth and improvement in ourselves and our relationships with others.

In Romans 12:18 Paul tells us to try to get along with people as best as possible.  In fact the entire chapter is an excellent lesson on how to love others.

Today’s prayer:  Dear God, please help me not be resentful of those who point out my defects in character.  Also, please help me to forgive those who are unwilling to look at their own shortcomings, and help me to forgive those who are unwilling to forgive.  May I always be humble, patient, and loving with everyone who crosses my path, remembering always, that everyone has their own cross to bear.

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