Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mirror

Today I had one of those a-ha moments that wasn’t so fun.   You know, when you see yourself in the mirror and it isn’t too pretty?

I have a friend whom I admire very much.  He is the opposite type of personality than I am, a Type B, very cautious. He thinks things through before he does anything. I’m the opposite.  I’m glib.  A smart-mouth retort is often at the forefront of my mind.  It has served me well at times, but has also proven disastrous. 

Some of the very things I admire about him are those differences, his deliberate, measured approach to things.  I admire his dedication to duty and his dignity in the midst of a very tough professional situation which he did not bring upon himself.  I also admire his dedication to his children, which, without going into detail, has been considerable, even though they are now adults.   And there is a certain vulnerability there which I find endearing.
I thought I had been helping him with getting his credentials out there on LinkedIn and getting some of his thoughts down in a blog.  Today I was totally thrilled that a major police resource had picked up that blog.

And then the mirror.  In the course of a phone conversation where I thought I was encouraging him, he said, laughing, “oh you mean the part when you make me into something I’m not?”  I get my feelings hurt easily, so I am the master of hiding that and extricating myself from a phone conversation.  I was devastated.  I had a hard time continuing on with the professional task before me.  It is over two hours later and I still feel like someone punched me.

Could there be a worse message to someone you care about than trying to make him or her into something they aren’t?  Actually, the message you send is, “hey, you aren’t okay the way you are.”  I love to help people and be an encourager.  In this case, what I ended up doing was just the opposite.  Folks need to move at their own pace and do things in a manner comfortable for them. 

When someone has a problem, it is my natural inclination to fix it.  Terry doesn’t know all the bells and whistles of Powerpoint?  I can help her.  Jason has a long-term upset stomach?  I buy papaya enzyme and yoghurt.  Nancy has a heart episode?  I make spaghetti.  It is part of who I am.
You know the problem with that? People need to solve their own problems.  Sometimes, maybe most of the time, people just want you to listen to them and be their friend.  Maybe they don’t want to hear your smarty-pants suggestions.  Maybe they don’t even want to hear you piously say that you’ll pray.  Maybe the best thing to do is just keep your mouth shut and pray without saying anything. 

Today I learned with a few tears and a good dose of old-fashioned embarrassment, that the way I care may not always be received the way I intended.  So, I’m going to be more measured and cautious in my overt displays of caring and let my helping be in between me and God until I’m asked for more.  I have plenty of my own things to work on, my own blog to perfect, my own character improvements to make, and my own professional mid-course corrections to work on.

1 comment:

keshling said...

Really honest....I love what you said because I can see that I'm guilty of similar. I guess the upshot is that people don't always need what you're offering. Don't feel bad (although I would have been mortified too)

K xx