Unfortunate others

Let’s be quite clear about the other side in a problem:

  1. They may be dangerous. (In the U.S. many women are killed when they try to leave their abuser. This danger is not imagined and it can be deadly. Private Violence is a powerful documentary on this subject.)
  2. They may not want to change.
  3. They may not care about your interests.
  4. A gap may exists between actions and words, so the whole situation may be quite confusing.

Reconciliation is ultimately about building a community so people who choose health can prosper. If a person does not have the desire or capability to choose health they can’t live in community with healthy people.

The reconciliation imagination for a healthy person with unfortunate others seeks clarity.

One must:

  1. Remember your purpose. We’re here to flourish. Does the next step take you closer to this goal?
  2. What can this person reasonably give you? Will that help you or your community flourish?
  3. Be clear on your motivations for dealing with that person.  If you’re engaged out of fear or deficit motivation you’ve just identified the areas you need to grow in. If you don’t wish to grow, ask yourself why not?
  4. Be clear that the other person is human and has some choices that we don’t control.
  5. Throw off religiosity. Don’t come in with pre-conceived ideas or timeframes. A great resource for Christians with questions about the intersection of psychology and spirituality is the collected works of theologian Lewis Smedes.
  6. Focus on your ideas and dreams. Let those take up as much of your mindspace as possible. This will help you work through a difficult situation from a place of accuracy.

Do you pray for unfortunate others?

It really depends! These unfortunate people have wasted a lot of our collective time. I try to focus on my future and health in prayer time, using that time to be as clear as possible about what I need to do to flourish.

One sign of health is when we are talking with a person who has suffered its encouraging to hear the moment they stop talking about their oppressor in their oppressor’s language and emerge into speaking about their own hopes and dreams.  That’s when we are most free of unfortunate others.