Going Against the Flow

I have a great group of friends. I’m very, very thankful for that. We can talk, laugh, and cry together.

Recently, an issue came up, and I discovered that I’m at odds with most of my friends. During a dinner discussion one evening with this particular group of friends, they asked me how I felt about this issue (and no, I’m not going to mention the specifics here). Well, instead of hemming and hawing and trying to deflect, because the discussion had already gone around the table, I chose to be honest with them. Although they are close friends, it was still difficult to open up because my opinion was different than nearly everyone else’s. I didn’t think I’d lose friends over this, but I also did not want to cause tension.

Guess what happened? Instead of tension, or even flippant remarks of how wrong I was, I received support and words of encouragement. Relief filled me.

I told my friends that I was glad for the open conversation, as it helped me learn more about the issue and to understand why my friends feel the way they do.

Holding a different point of view these days feels very strange, almost to the point of feeling isolated. You’re going against the norm, and like the cliché says, you’re swimming upstream.

That night of conversation makes me wish the world was more like this. Agreeing to disagree, respectfully, peacefully, and listening to all sides of the issue. When we listen to each other, we learn more. We learn about our friends, and while we all may not agree on everything, it does make a difference when you understand why they feel the way they do.

So, to my friends, I say thank you. Thank you for understanding, thank you for listening and respecting my point of view, as I respect yours.

Next time a friend expresses a view that’s different from your own, please listen to them. Try to understand why they hold that opinion, then have a quiet, respectful discussion. Who knows? You might find you have more common ground than you realize, and you might even learn something about each other, and yourself.

Expect the Unexpected

The words “expect the unexpected” should be a familiar phrase to most of us.  It illustrates what life is all about.  Just when we think things are routine or even boring… BAM!  Something unexpected comes along.

Most who know me, know that I’m a big fan of tennis. No, I don’t play much anymore, but I love watching, especially the grand slams.  If you look back at my blog posts, there will be at least one tennis related post during the summer months.

Currently, I’m watching the French Open. And as tends to happen in the tournaments, today is looking to be “upset day.”  Already, the #1 seed on the women’s side, Serena Williams is out.  Her sister, Venus, followed shortly thereafter.  The #2 seed on the women’s side, Li Na, lost yesterday.  And the #3 seed on the men’s side, and current Australian Open champion, Stan Wawrinka (what a great inspiration from the Australian Open!) lost in his opening round match.

Some say tennis might be boring, with Nadal, Federer and Djokovich dominating the top of the game.  However, along comes Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Wawrinka and the hold at the top isn’t quite so tight.  (Watch out for Del Potro if we can get him healthy!).  Today, we saw that the Williams sisters can have their off days and are no longer invincible.  The women’s game is quite wide open these days.

I remember when Sampras and Agassi were the top players.  Heck, I go back to the days of Borg (one of my favorites) and McEnroe, who had such epic battles…with Lendl and Edberg always close.  Remember Evert and Navratilova? Steffi Graf?

As great as these top tennis players are, they all have dealt with the unexpected. Despite the routine of training and working hard at their craft, they’ll have an off day.  Is it the end of their career? No.

Serena Williams lost in the first round of the French Open a couple of years ago.  Shocking at the time. But was it the end of her time at the French Open? No way.  She came back last year and won the entire tournament!

So, she lost in the second round today.  She’ll use this loss as motivation. Watch out for the rest of this year and for the French Open next year!

On the unexpected days, we need to roll with the punches. Learn from the loss and move on to be better next time.

Sometimes the unexpected days are for good (Stan Warwrinka breaking the stranglehold of the top four winning all the grand slams or Andy Murray winning Wimbledon last year), and that should inspire confidence to move forward, striving with more confidence to your goals.

While we can get comfortable in our routines, we need to know the unexpected is coming. It can make us stronger, teach us and help us grow.

So, in life, learn to expect the unexpected.  Even if it seems to be negative, it’s something that can be turned into a positive.  It’s up to us and our attitude to make it good.

A Teachable Spirit

My husband and I were talking over the weekend. We both hit milestone birthdays this year, and that seems to have provoked conversation about our journey in this life.  The events of our crumbling world have also provoked discussions.

No, I don’t have any answers for our nation and world, or for any “mid-life crisis” I may be going through.

What I do know is that no matter what we’re doing in our life, with our job, with our hobbies, and even with friends, church and beyond is that we need to have a teachable spirit.

The older we get, we always need to be willing to learn new things, try new things, and stay open to whatever God has in store for us.

I saw this lesson during an ACFW writing conference a few years ago. I was sitting in a class, and across the aisle from me was a well-known, multi-published author, who was scribbling notes from the instructor as fast as I was!  That image stuck with me, because although this person was multi-published, she never lost her spirit of learning more about her craft.

Whatever your job is, you need to have an open, teachable spirit.  It’s too often that sharing ideas or a new way of doing something will bring out a defensive posture in someone else.

Not all new ways of doing something are the best way, but being open and willing to listen can sometimes lead to an updated idea, or determine that what you’re doing now is indeed the best way, or lead you down a completely new path.

As Christians, we always need to be studying scripture and learning and growing more in our Christian walk.

Having a teachable spirit can open you up to so many new things and take you in a new direction to something exciting and wonderful.

Especially as I grow older, I want to keep experiencing new things or at least be open to new ideas. I never, ever want to stop learning.  It’s a way to keep living this adventurous life.

How about you?  Did opening yourself up to something new lead you in a completely different direction than anticipated? I’d love to hear your stories.