Is there someone in your life that seems to believe that the world could not possibly revolve without their guidance and attention? As a recovering control freak myself, I am very aware of the impact one can have within a small community. In my group of new friends here in southeast Nebraska, I have come across a woman who, bless her heart, really feels that she must be in control...of EVERYTHING! She is a God-fearing, scripture-reading person who, I have no doubt, believes that what she is doing is right and good for everyone. After all, who could possibly do what she does and do it better than her?
The interesting thing is, I think I could probably become good friends with this person. I believe she has a heart that cares tremendously for others. I believe that her intentions really are for good, but her methods leave others cowering in her wake and fearful of voicing anything that might be different from her opinions. Rather than engaging her in a dialogue, folks have opted to go another way and steer clear of her which is difficult, for in this new institution where I work, she has inserted herself in almost everything. Now, this could be a problem for me, because much of what she wants to do (or is doing), I have been charged with by the "authorities."
So, how do I maneuver these new waters? I have no doubt that I was placed in this position for a reason. I have many, many years of experience so this is not the first time, nor probably the last, that I will face this challenge. My mission is to find a way to channel her efforts to be a benefit to all, instead of a hindrance. It is not my job to "put her in her place" or to usurp her efforts in any way. As I see it, my mission is to help her find a way to work as a member of a group, using her knowledge and experience to enable the community to move forward as one entity, one joined body. It is also my mission to help others find their voices when working with her, so that they don't worry about being shut-down or hurt by her efforts to guide and direct them.
It really comes down to that old issue of effectively communicating, doesn't it? We all talk to each other (although, I think at each other might be more appropriate). We speak thousands and thousands of words every day and we know what we intended. So why are there so many misunderstandings and disagreements surrounding our communications?
The problem is the way in which we listen. Each of us hears through our unique set of ears and experiences. The word love can mean a million different things because what I have known as love in my life, may be entirely different than what you have known as love in yours. So when I use the word love in my conversation with you, you immediately see the image that the word holds for you, while I see the word through my own image. Now, imagine ALL of the words in our language and all the various meanings of those words. It is no wonder that we have misunderstandings and hurt feelings! We think we've spoken very clearly; we don't know how to say it any differently. Likewise, we think we've listened very carefully and are certain that we understood exactly what they said. And still, there are problems!
This is why it is so important that we never take for granted that what we said was understood. We must make an effort to ask each other for clarifications, to be effective listeners, especially with people that we don't know so very well. It's not difficult with our long-time, close friends. We know each other. We've shared experiences so that when I say, "I really love this person," she knows what I mean. We've shared that image and it is the same. But with someone new, you must build those bridges to understanding. It takes time and a lot of effort on both parts, but, oh, the benefits are tremendous!
The ability to really share with another person is what relationships are truly about. The benefit of giving of yourself enough that another can 'see' into your soul is a gift that you can give. Some are not able to do this. They learned early on in their lives that giving at this level is not safe and therefore, they keep everyone, or almost everyone, at a great distance never showing the true self. Because of this, everyone loses.
So I am faced with this challenge. I must make every effort to find a way to build a bridge amongst these people. I have no idea whether or not I will be successful, but I know that God had best be going there before me or I have no chance. I must trust that He will guide and direct my works so that everyone will feel loved and cared for when my work here is finished. And, hopefully, when all is done and I move on to the next place, the people of this community will be better for the work we all did here.
Blessings to you!