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Mind My Own Business

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2. How do we deal with our differences in a healthy and positive way?


My wife (a professional counselor) gave me a key concept: one of the ways we know someone is healthy is if they have strong and appropriate boundaries. In other words: s/he knows the difference between hirself and others.


That is one of the greatest problems in dealing with differences: realizing the extent to which the differences of others are none of our business and something in which we shouldn't poke our noses uninvited. Too many churches foster a "false intimacy" which is often just an excuse for dumping judgements on others. If someone isn't hurting me directly and I have been informed (one way or another) that the person doesn't want my interference, then I should just butt out!


Pray for that person, give them the same loving regard I would to anyone, the type I would want for myself, but give them their space. Part of loving anyone is to also respect them.

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So true!


Really, so many of our disappointments in people/outcomes lie within our own expectations. We get frustrated because people don't agree with us - is that a problem with them or with us? It's a problem with us, with our own egos not making room for another person.


By trying to force other people to be the same, or behave in a certain way, we are really just increasing the distance between us. Like you say, if that person isn't hurting you directly (or doing something horrible like rape/murder/assault) then really, butt out. You can give that person encouragement, spend time with them, be a good friend, but pointing fingers is not appropriate.


I've been having this discussion with Mr. Raven for quite a while now, as he and his brother are having some trouble relating. Sure, as people who love the brother, we wish he were making different decisions in his life - but it's his life and his decisions, and we can't live for him. We can maintain open communication, invite him to spend time with us, pray for him, set a good example - but getting in his face, "You shouldn't be ______" is not going to do any good. In fact, it'll probably make things worse.


Sometimes we set the bar so high in our expectations, that it's impossible for others not to fall short. Then we feel angry that they fall short of our expectations. By adjusting our expectations to be reasonable, we can eradicate that feeling of anger.


For example: in my personal relationships with people, I expect that they be honest with me, not harm me or my loved ones, and be respectful. The decisions they make about their own lives (their hobbies, significant others, whether or not to go back to school or change jobs, how to spend their money) has nothing to do with me, beyond my hopes that they are healthy and well. Of course, it's easier to say than do, but by focusing on my love for them, holistically, I can help myself avoid the pitfalls of getting overinvolved and crossing the line.

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