I Did Something Radical
UPDATE 10/24/12 : an expanded version of this story now appears on Good Women Project.I did something radical today.
One of my friends sent me a link to an article that made me cringe. It triggered my fears from my background and childhood. I started to panic and wanted to claw at my skin when I saw the title “guard your heart” and realized the post was in support of this phrase. I skimmed it and started shaking.
I opened my mouth (hands, really, because I was typing) to respond, to lay out the reasons why this link triggered me, where I thought the author was wrong in nuances, and precisely how I disagreed with her conclusions.
And I had every freaking right to do that. Especially with this friend. We make infinite amounts of space for one another and apologize quickly when we collide. We have challenging but healthy disagreements. I have so much freedom in this friendship to live with my triggers and neuroses, fully accepting of the wounds of my past, and let healing happen at its own pace.
I was about to dig in again, knowing it would be alright, but I didn’t.
I shut my mouth. (erased what I’d written in the gchat window)
And when I started typing again, I said something that changed my life: “Tell me why this is important to you.”
And she did.
It had nothing to do with the reasons that triggered me. In fact, even as she explained, she affirmed my right to have a different opinion than hers about this article. But she told me why it was beautiful to HER and in that way, SHE became more beautiful to me. Because she let me see her and hear her story with all its unique markings and pain and hope and love.
It wasn’t about the article anymore. It was about a catalyst to open up with each other, share what God is doing in our individual journeys, and celebrate that.
This is how to be friends with people who are radically different than you. This is why it is VITAL to be friends with people who are radically different than you. Whether they’re a different gender, race, age, religion, theological persuasion, special diet, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or anything else than you are, they are very much the same in that they have a story and it deserves to be heard.
So I’m going to challenge myself to do two things:
ONE = build more relationships where I am radically accepted for exactly who I am, scars and opinions and all. They are unbelievably healthy and growth inducing for me. I don’t have to be stuck in spaces where there isn’t freedom to be who I am right now. My story isn’t up for debate or criticism.
TWO = when I want to disagree, ask what this article/opinion/heritage/event/relationship/political view means to them. Engage with THEIR story if they are willing to share, not just MY story. My story has shaped me in beautiful and dangerous ways, so their story has probably done the same for them. Practice real listening without criticism of their story.
I did something radical today.
I changed my world by listening.