Lessons Learned from the Saga
Yesterday I posted The Saga.
Today we are discussing some of the things I have learned from my experience and some of the doctrinal principles that apply.
We’ll jump right in:
- Though I have completely curbed my ability to cut into another person, because of the things I did say to Ms. P, she is sure that I hate her. Now this is just not true. I have never hated her. I have been sufficiently annoyed and unwilling to speak with her, on occasion. But I do not lie awake at night thinking of things I can to do retaliate or going over and over and over in my head the things she has done that annoy me. Sometimes I am dumb-founded and I do ponder about it, but only so that I can try to see things from her perspective and figure out if my behavior was out of line or needed correction. Yesterday’s post explained why I chose not to talk to people when I am too upset with them. Most of the time I try not to express my annoyance to people because I know it is just something I have to figure out and work through. But this behavior has never meant that I hate someone.
- Because of her insecurities, Ms. P has been unwilling to talk to me and validate or invalidate her suspicions of my motives or feelings. This is normal. Who wants to talk to someone if you are sure they are going to tell you they hate you? Usually if I am in a situation like this, I will approach the person by saying something like, “Recently your behavior has looked like [this]. I am wondering if I have offended you in some way or done something that has irritated you….?” Until we choose to verify our own thoughts about another, we are left to interpret them on our own (unless we ask Heavenly Father to help us understand things differently) and continue believing our wrong thoughts about others.
- Ms. P has misinterpreted several of the things I have done or said and her current opinion of my feelings is now coloring some of our past interactions——further validating (in her mind) the inaccurate feelings she has assigned to me.
- In the past, I have been the one to clear the air between us. Our relationship comes back into harmony only because I make effort to correct her misconceptions and apologize for what was said or done. At this point, I just remind you that you can never cook a pancake so thin that there are not two sides and one person cannot bear all the responsibility for issues in any relationship. Recently I learned that she feels I have done all of the hurtful things and she has not done any, so I am completely responsible and she has nothing to apologize for. Wow! Really?!! Ok, well, since I am the only one who ever apologizes in this relationship…..
Well, the truth is, I just decided I was finished. I am a fixer. I like things and relationships fixed. I will apologize even when I have done nothing wrong, if it will help to fix the relationship. The truth of that however, is that approach is not honest. I do them no favors apologizing for things that are not my responsibility, for the sake of peace. I do not have to fix it. I am not responsible for the other person’s reactions or feelings. Sometimes there is growth in letting them work it out on their own. This time, I decided not to fix it. Not my job.
But there are some things I do need to fix. My ‘shut-it-down’ comments have been hurtful. They have never been intended to be and I believe they are allowing for more justification of the mistreatment of my children and those close to me. I probably would do better to simply say, “I am too angry to speak with you right now,” instead of the things I have said. That would be more honest.
- Agency: hers and mine. I am not responsible for hers. I am responsible for mine. I need to treat her properly. I have felt like I have, but I could choose kinder words to express my feelings honestly.
- Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you. I do pray for Ms. P. I serve her, sometimes anonymously, but I have. The other day I read a sign that said, “Live so that if someone said something negative about you, no one would believe it.” I hope I do that.
- Forgive. I am not waiting for Ms. P to apologize, in fact, I really believe that.will.never.happen, especially if she does not believe she has done anything wrong. I can forgive her for making mistakes, being unkind or mean, and I can even forgive her for things she doesn’t know she has done. Forgiveness is for the person harmed—–so I don’t have to carry around negative feelings toward that person. And I work on this every day. I admit it is difficult when something else involving my children and Ms. P comes to light. I struggle again, sometimes for days. I think sometimes, we want forgiveness to mean ‘I trust you again.’ Well, it doesn’t. I am not perfect in my ability to apply Mercy just yet. I am learning too. When my trust has been violated, you may never get it back. It takes a lot, and I will not do the work for you. Its not that I hate you, or even that I do not like you, but I do not trust you, and that is how it is. I have not learned how to repair this yet. I’m sure the Savior will help me to figure it out. But for me today, forgiveness and trust are different, and I can have one without the other.
- Trust and Faith: I know I can trust and have faith in God. I know if He tells me to do something, even if it is difficult, it will be what is best. Several times I have received promptings to do something for Ms. P. I have acted on those promptings. I have no idea what they have done for her, but I know what they have done for me. They have softened my heart toward her. I have seen inside Ms. P’s heart. I know she can do good. I know she loves God and Jesus Christ and the gospel. I know she can be kind. I know she is learning and growing, just like me, and I do not expect her to be perfect. I know she has hard things to do in her life without drama on my part and I honestly try to just avoid anything that would cause more drama for either of us. Maybe what I do expect is too much. I get particularly irritated when I feel she behaves in a way with my children that I take special care not to do with hers—like be unkind to them because she is upset with me. I really like her kids and think most of them are amazing. The others I do not know very well and so my opinion of them is not quite formed yet.
- Hope: What do I hope for Ms P? I hope she learns to love herself. I hope she learns that even if people do not like her, she can believe it is probably just because they really do not know the true Ms. P. Ms. P, you do not have to pretend in order for people to like you. You have some very nice qualities and you can be very, very beautiful if you will allow yourself to change and grow.
There isn’t one of us who everyone will like. Some people even hate God and I’m pretty sure He hasn’t done anything hurtful to them. Remember He only gives loaves and fishes—not stones and serpents.
As for me, I hope I will always interact appropriately with the Ms. P’s of the world. I have some very valid reasons for why I struggle with those personalities. Reasons I didn’t know until this week and reasons I wouldn’t have understood without the current Ms. P situation. They have NOTHING to do with Ms. P, except she facilitated my learning process, and they are too personal to share in blogging. They are things I will have to work on. But now, because of my new understanding about myself, hopefully I will be able to manage any future Ms. P situations better and more like the Savior would. It has already improved other relationships I struggle with.
I hope Ms. P and I both become the women God intends us to be.
What about you? How do you manage difficult relationships?