Instrument of Peace

I’ve been thinking a lot about the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. It begins with Lord make me an instrument of your peace.

Last night I was not an instrument of peace. I allowed someone to elicit from me a less than harmonious response. I want to be the kind of person that doesn’t allow others, or circumstances, to disturb my peace. I want my outer body to be an impenetrable armor to my spirit–for my spirit is where my peace resides.

I’m reflecting now on what it was that caused me to lose my peace as the person who I allowed to steal my peace is someone I love very much and I’m intent to learn from the experience so that in the future I respond differently.

When I try to get to the bottom of the problem it seems that it was all a misunderstanding. There were, in fact, a series of misunderstandings:

  1. original desires
  2. division of labors
  3. financial interests

I’m realizing right now that when you boil down any altercation what remains is simply a misunderstanding. Communication is so crucial. And if, after your altercation, you don’t identify the misunderstanding, you will have “missed” understanding each other, and you will have missed the opportunity to lay a foundation of correct “understanding.” Interesting how similar the meanings of “foundation” and “understanding.” Solid foundations allow us to build sturdy buildings. Correct understandings help us build solid relationships. Both supply something solid to build or stand upon.

What I learned from last night:

  1. My antagonist and I need to come to an understanding about our desires moving forward.
  2. My antagonist and I need to come to an understanding about our division of labors.
  3. My antagonist and I need to come to an understanding about our financial interests.

Something I learned about myself last night is that while I am getting better at communicating my feelings (I have a tendency to keep what I’m feeling inside for I hate conflict and confrontation), I still need to work on communicating what I’m feeling dispassionately. Essentially, when I’m feeling frustrated and upset, I would like to convey those feelings in a neutral manner. I do believe it is possible to communicate my frustration without becoming frustrated. Last night, however, was not one of those moments. So I will do better next time because I want to be an instrument of peace. I cannot allow others to disrupt my peace. I could have listend to the other person’s concerns without judging their concerns as complaints and personal attacks. I could have realized that what that person was saying revealed more about them than it did about me. I could have chosen not to take it personally. Had I had the insight I now possess, I could have looked for the underlying misunderstanding(s) so we could correct our foundation and build something solid to stand upon. I would not have “missed’ understanding each other.

I’m also reminding myself to look within for I’m finding it easy to identify all the things “wrong” with the other person, but remembering that others are our greatest teachers, and applying the principle of the light of vexation, I’m humbled by the remaining self work I have to do.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Cards in Hand

Life is like a game of cards. . . not everyone gets to see our hand.  In fact, we decide who we reveal our hand to and how many cards we display.

The more cards we show someone, the more connected or intimate our relationship with that person will be. Let’s say I have a hand of 7 cards. I may show my best friend 6 of my cards, only holding back one. She’s earned that right. I trust her, and because I value her insight, I want her to know what is on my plate and invite her into my personal life.

My neighbor, on the other hand, isn’t a close, intimate friend, so maybe she only gets to see one, maybe two of my cards. The complete stranger at the store probably gets to see none.

But what about my spouse? I would like to think I’m sharing my entire hand with him. At least that’s the type of relationship I want to have with the man I’ve committed to share my life with. I don’t want to hold anything back. I want him to know exactly the cards I’m holding. I want a relationship where neither of us hold anything back.

I don’t think it’s fair, nor healthy, for one person in the relationship to be willing to be vulnerable and risk showing their entire hand if the other person isn’t willing to risk the same vulnerability. I guess a relationship can work if both parties are holding back cards and both are aware of and okay with knowing they aren’t sharing everything. But when it comes to me and Matt, I want total transparency–a complete connection. When you aren’t willing to share all your cards, or be completely vulnerable, you prevent intimacy. I don’t want that.

BUT what if you aren’t aware you’re holding back cards? Well, that’s a point of consideration for another day, but do allow me to say that I do believe it is quite possible to be holding cards unawares. With that being the case, I’d simply advise that the minute you become aware of a card in your hand, reveal it, because concealing cards limits connection. And being connected is what I think the Lord really meant when he commanded man and wife to be one. He doesn’t really want us to be the same person. He wants us to be united, or connected–intimately.

Reading People

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I love learning and how I sometimes prefer books to people because I feel like I learn so much when I’m reading and studying. But then I had this “Aha” moment where I realized what I value most from experts, gurus, thought leaders, mentors, etc. is their ability to synthesize their life experience into digestible and instructional sound bites. So what if I used verbal cues to elicit sound bites from every day people I meet. I meant isn’t life experience what teaches us most? Imagine what I could learn from everyone I meet if I simply start asking any number of the following questions:

What are some of your favorite words to live by?

What truisms have you come to know through personal experience?

What do you know now that you wish you had known earlier?

What thoughts or ideas help you through hard times?

What are some of your secrets to success?

What brings you the greatest enjoyment or pleasure in life?

What are some of your greatest failures? What did you learn from them?

Do you have any life mantras?

What do you want your legacy to be?

How do you define success?

What do you feel makes for a successful marriage or relationships?

How do you want to be remembered?

Is there anything you try to do each and every day?

Do you have any regrets?

This is just a small start of some of the questions I’d love to ask every person I meet. I’m going to start tonight by asking my massage therapist some of these questions during my massage.

Can you imagine how much more I will learn by reading people in addition to reading and studying books? Not everyone can or will write a book, but everyone will happily respond to any number of the aforementioned questions. Wouldn’t it be fun to keep a blog of people’s answers to these questions? Would be super fun to snap a picture of the person and put it next to their post. Compiling them all into a book called “Words of Wisdom” would be epic too–haha and now look what I’ve done. I’ve come full circle from reading books to reading people so that I can compile what I learn into a book that others can read!

Will be interesting to see if I end up prefering reading people over reading books!