Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I never spent much time watching the grass grow. I appreciated the fact that it is a slow and barely discernable process. I generally find it more rewarding (and distressing) to look at the grass now and then in two weeks. The impact of growth is much more obvious.

The same is true in personal and spiritual growth, but once in while a moment of growth is noted and should be celebrated. One of the hardest things for me to deal with is when I feel I have been falsely accused. Everything within me screams for the justice that would come from a clear hearing of ALL the facts. (Yeah, I know, I should read the book of Job more often.)

But this morning I got an e-mail that accused me of some things that weren't really an accurate appraisal of the facts. The girl that wrote the e-mail felt like she had a good idea and I took it away and took the credit. (To trigger my defensiveness even more, she copied my supervisor.)My first reaction was to explain that her perceptions were inaccurate. Instead, I took a deep breath and prayed. Rather than clarify the facts my accuser had misunderstood or misstated. I supported and apologized for the hurt she felt from the facts as she saw them. In the process I clarified the ways in which my actions were not intended to take her idea out of her hands, but to put her idea in the hands of people who could much more successfully bring it about. The real difference was that my explanation was not an excuse, it was an agreement. I recognized that her initial idea was great and wanted it to succeed as grandly as possible. So I had put it in the hands of the best people to push it forward. I emphasized that I greatly appreciated her contribution and regretted that her continuing contributions were not sought as others were "given the ball." I recognized her wound, approved of it, apologized for it, and asked for her help to make sure I didn't hurt someone like this again.

It felt clean. I felt clean. She softened, apologized, and agreed to meet. (For what it's worth, she also copied my supervisor on her apology and expressed her appreciation and support of me.)

Why it's so hard for me to remain non-defensive when accusations don't accurately reflect all the facts, is an interesting and profitable topic of consideration. At the same time, however, the explanation is irrelevant. It excuses nothing. Repentance is still called for, no matter the underlying reasons. It is my responsibility to react in an "other-centered" way every time.

I'm just afraid it will be like watching the grass grow.

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