Someone asked me, should the offender or the offended be the first to apologize and move toward reconciliation? I grappled with the question for days. Well, the offender made the first move so they should apologize. Wait, but what if the offended feel the way they do about something that wasn’t meant to offend…then shouldn’t they be the first to step toward reconciliation?
Days later, I am no closer to the right answer. What I have determined is we need more people willing to set aside “their part” and move toward reconciliation, be dedicated to doing the right thing, no matter what role they play. We will never truly understand the intentions of another person because we can’t be in their head and heart. And let’s be real…we live in a world that is highly offensive and highly offended. Mainstream culture is fear-based, anxiety-inducing, scarcity-enforcing, violence-encouraging and controlled by egos, power, and money.
The mainstream narrative tells us:
- Be selfish: Do whatever it takes to make your life easier and get what you want.
- You’ll never be good enough: Someone always has accomplished or acquired more than you…keep pushing and buying.
- There isn’t enough: If you give an inch they’ll take a mile so protect yourself and keep what’s yours.
- Your best life includes fame and fortune: You will be happier and more loved when you achieve these things.
These are the lies that keep us unhappy, unhealthy, and unstable. As we live out these fear-based narratives in big and small ways everyday, we tear apart our families, communities, and organizations.
So how do we change it? By changing ourselves. I lived this way my entire life, and have just within the last few years begun to dismantle this way of thinking and living. I want to share how. It was and still is hard as hell. It takes daily commitment and discipline. The reward? Peace and freedom. I am free from the opinions of others. I am more grounded and stable when things get wildly out of control. There is more joy in my life. I sleep better. I am more creative and productive than I have ever been. I am more excited about life and my career than I have ever been. I want for nothing. I am able to appreciate other viewpoints and ways of living instead of judging them. I am able to love and trust at a level I never could before, which has given me more fulfillment in my marriage, friendships, and family relationships than I ever could’ve dreamed. And I love myself more fully and completely everyday.
You can have this too…no matter where you are or what you’ve done. You are worthy of love, forgiveness, and peace. These are the steps that guided me to this place, and they are available to you too.
Make quiet moments a priority. Overstimulation causes anxiety. Find a way to shut things off. Turn off the radio and TV when doing other activities. Go for a walk. Let your mind wander while cooking or getting ready for the day.
We fall into bad habits around what we fill our minds, our ears, and our time with. Take an audit of your habits and find space for more silence and solitude where possible. Rediscover your own thoughts and embrace your truth instead of taking in everyone else’s. Rediscover Jesus and His truth. Silence and solitude, even just a couple minutes a day, can help quiet your mind and reduce stress. Fill your mind and your life with less, and see how much better you feel.
As your time, heart, and mind open up, start to explore your own perceptions and beliefs about the world. Why do you believe the things you do? What is meaningful and valuable to you? What is God’s vision for you and your life? (Trust me, your vision is too small…you want His.) When we get curious, our energy and passion come back. Our creativity is reignited as it was when we were children. You will start to approach the world and the people in it with questions rather than statements. You will begin to notice all the nuances and dichotomies we experience as humans. Life becomes less definitive and more inquisitive. Less divisive and more inclusive.
Through the process of getting curious you will start to identify, work through, and let go of fears and limiting beliefs. We acquire these in childhood and many people go to their grave never having examined or let go of them. You will unpack emotions you need to let go of, mend wounds you need to heal, and forgive people who have hurt you…even if it’s just you who needs to forgive you. Many people give up at this step. It gets hard, dark, and ugly before the light comes. Lean into others for support: God, loved ones, friends, healers, coaches, counselors. We were not meant to do this work alone. Find your allies and confidants. Surrendering to this step is the most courageous thing you can do in life. We can easily recognize those who get their power externally from authority and control vs. those who have the true power that is internally rooted in love and understanding.
As you build your vision of what a good life looks like, and of the person you want to be, you’ll start to recognize the lies culture tells. You will become less attached to cultural ideals and what other people say. You will break down the walls, barriers, and biases within your own life that you’ve built for protection because you realize now they were only causing harm. Judgment leaves your life as you realize we are all on our own journey, and there is no one right way to live. You become more understanding, accepting, and compassionate. You are stronger. You cannot be shaken. You are willing to be in and stay in the hard stuff that comes as a natural part of life, because you know God is with you and has your back.
The world looks different now. Your priorities, habits, and routines have changed. What seemed important before no longer is. You are fully alive. You have become a warrior. You are a true leader. Now it’s up to you to commit to the never ending task of staying aligned with God’s plan for your life. Ultimate freedom and peace are your reward.
Take the step. Start with silence. If you need support or more direction, reach out!