I know that you just heard from me yesterday, but it's possible that I spent the front half of this week doing nothing but recuperating from youth camp and starting to teach summer school (okay, so maybe not doing nothing like I was planning to say), and I let the blogging slip. If I'm going to keep up with this three times a week business, I've got some catch up to do today.
Good thing I've got material.
I have been in a situation in the last few days with someone who I'll describe here as...Ahem. Difficult.
Do you want to know the funniest thing? For the last two years, every interaction I've had with Difficult has been shaded by a couple of incredibly rude/crazy initial encounters. The impression I got initially stuck, let's say. Anyway, for the last two years, any time Difficult was brought up, I acknowledged (either mentally or verbally) the made-of-snakes-ness that I feel when in proximity. Lord have mercy when we've had to be in the same place. On multiple occasions I've had to be reminded by friends to "fix my face."
I don't say any of this proudly. In fact, to write it here on the internets is pretty difficult for me, because it's embarrassing. What's more embarrassing? What happened yesterday:
I was dreading working in the proximity of Difficult, truthfully. But I decided my mantra would be, "just because Difficult is unkind, doesn't mean all their ideas are bad." And I repeated it to myself. Over and over.
We got to work on what we were doing, had been sitting there for a while, totally cordial, and Difficult turns to me and sweetly asks me to remind them of my name.
Here's why that punched [is punching] me in the face: for two years any time Difficult was mentioned, or the place where they work was mentioned, my brain automatically jumped into a diatribe, reminding me of all the reasons they're my arch-nemesis.
And this whole time? Difficult had
n o i d e a .
Now, I will say that those initial interactions were in no way unclear. I perceived them as unkind, rude, and disrespectful.
But who's been hanging on to that unkindness, rudeness, and disrespect for two years? Sometimes I'm such a dummy.
I'm sharing this story to tell you that while Difficult and I may never be BFF's, how many chances to mend and repair that impression have I shut down for my laser-sharp focus on my own anger?
And what's even more difficult (hah.) for me to consider is: How many times have I been someone's Difficult?
I would like to think very few--but wouldn't she, too? Maybe she's unaware of how she's perceived? Maybe the way we interacted was a defense mechanism? I have no way of knowing, but I do know that when Difficult asked me to remind her of my name, and said "Oh gosh, now where do you teach again?" I blinked reeeeeally slowly. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't process how completely I'd let my own anger and hurt so thoroughly control my thoughts about another human being.
It's not a pretty realization, for sure.
So. I'm still working it out, obviously. But from pedagogy to recent fellow-educator heinousness, Difficult and I may never see eye-to-eye. But should I be letting another person have so much control over how I feel, while they are clueless to it? Absolutely not.
And certainly for whoever's Difficult I am, I sure hope they would show me more grace than I've shown.
I've got some work to do, friends. Jesus is good, and I'm grateful for that--especially in the midst of really ugly realizations. But I can say that I'm looking for ways to have grace with the Difficults. Myself included.