The center of my world is my wife and my two sons. The pearl in my world.
Outside my family, my world is that I make my living, and most of theirs, by dealing with conflict, whether helping people fight through it, cope with it, or settle it peacefully. I internalize a lot of it. Always have. And I’ve always done it. I have, as long as I can remember, been the person sitting over to the side of the crowd, welcoming the person who was pushed out. Probably the first time I fully realized that I wasn’t, and wouldn’t be, part of the crowd, was in first or second grade. I moved to a new school in fourth grade and then another in fifth. I went to just enough birthday parties back then to learn how miserable I was in parties, and to decide not to do that. So I was the friend of the kid in the wheelchair, and the kid who lost both of his parents, and the kid who didn’t talk. I related to them and I helped them deal with their conflicts with the rest of the world, and they reciprocated.
At the Baptist college, I did not fit in so well. As in elementary and high school, I was drawn to the outcasts. But there, the outcasts were the drug users and non-christians. One of my favorite groups I ever led was a non-BSU bible study. I arrogantly called it “God’s Bible Study,” to differentiate it from the BSU groups. But I loved the people in it, and the diversity in it.
It was this characteristic in my spirit that made me include classes such as Native American History, Black History, and even a class about Witchcraft and other beliefs to make my learning of history and people more balanced. It was this aspect of me that spurred my college and adult travels to Belize, Africa, Alaska, London, Paris, Israel and lots of the “bad” sections of cities all over, to see the people and find our common denominators, and show myself that they are not as bad as the news wants me to believe.
I guess all this is why my recent offense to Hendrix students bothered me so much. I have, for most of my life, been on the outside, or at least felt like it, so there is nothing in me that would ever want to make another person feel that way. But I did. I caused a similar pain (but deeper bc of generational history) to them as I have felt in most groups, ever. (Redneckus)
I have asked for their forgiveness, but whether they grant it or not, I must forgive myself and re-focus on my mission, to help others with conflict, now with a little more experience in it than before.
I teach people that holding a grudge is like holding a whiskey bottle. It needs to be held as far away as possible because of the damage it can do if you internalize it, but holding it like that wears you out quickly. I’ve had a grudge against God before, and pent up anger at myself as well as others, and it never accomplishes anything good. So I have offered a heartfelt apology, worked through my anger and disappointment with myself, ignored vengeful attacks from those I hurt, and now I am forgiving myself and moving back to my world. Sometimes that’s all you can do.