Jun. 4, 2016

Needed and Necessary

Remember these words: “natural” and “adaptive.”

It is important to realize that all of us have a right to be true to our natural identity. As long as we are not doing anything illegal, unethical, or immoral we need the freedom to be ourselves.  However, people who try to function and run their lives strictly in their natural state will most likely run into problems.

Our mothers said it this way, “We must learn to give and take” or “To get a friend, you have to be a friend.” Many times we want to give, give, give or we take, take, take – all reflections of an unhealthy relationship.

Please allow me to share a personal life example in order to explain my thought process. I’ve worked at places where I am allowed to truly be me; be open, share insights, ask questions, and interact not having to worry about every little thing I say or do. Nobody walked around on egg shells because everyone was confident enough in themselves that they didn’t ask or require someone else to adapt to their insecurities. Those particular roles were usually in mental health environments.

However, I’ve experienced other work environments where I learned to adapt to a less open culture, more criticizing attitude, and hierarchy of power. I’ve adapted by maintaining surface relationships instead of really trying to get to know and understand those around me. None of those traits are natural for me, but were required for the job.

I think the words “tolerance” and “compromise” have been both overused and misconstrued. Every relationship requires tolerance and compromise. In healthy relationships, both parties do a little of both without expecting the other person to do all of one.

Despite being almost 60 years old, I continue to learn a lot about myself in the presence of other people. While I will not allow anyone to build or destroy my self-image, I do look to God to teach me when to tame my natural self and employ my adaptive self.

It’s called getting along. It’s being willing to adapt to the nature of God.

Jesus says it this way, “You’ve heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:43-44b