Friday, January 25, 2008

Heaven On Their Minds

One of the things I've been struggling with and touched on in a previous post is my inability to live up to my desire to be a good person and put away the petty thoughts and feelings of anger, jealousy, envy, and judgment. A big reason for this is that when Scott and I were married we chose the following passage as one of our readings and when we chose it we did so because we believed it and ever since then, I've been trying to live it.

"Teacher, 21 which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him, 22 "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: 23 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Rather than getting easier as time goes by, I am finding it more and more difficult and I don't know if it's because I've become more isolated by being at home or because I'm just getting more set in my ways and I have a reduced tolerance for bullshit. I don't know but I find myself increasingly challenged to live up these ideals.

And lately there is one person in particular who is challenging me in ways I never imagined I'd be challenged.

There is a new woman who joined my MOMS Club; I've actually mentioned her before. We had a disagreement about using pacifiers before we ever met in person. Once we met, I found out we went to the same tiny liberal arts, women's college. Our sons are roughly the same age. On paper, I should like her. And I've tried. I've really made an effort to bite my tongue and think positively. But I just can't stand this woman.

She's butch and physically unattractive to me and not by accident. I mean, her personal style choices are just bad. Okay. But that's not reason to dislike someone. Right? I think my perception there is just a manifestation of my dislike of her personality.

It seems that no matter what the topic we discuss in MOMS Club, she has an opinion. And I consider myself kind of left-wing and liberal and open-minded and open to alternative lifestyles and health choices. But this girl takes it to an extreme level in that she has to make an issue out of everything.

I kind of see this as an age-old problem with certain individuals on the fringe. Just as there is a group of right-wing nutjobs out there who want everyone to live the way they do, there is an equally annoying faction of liberal nutters who want everyone to live in grass shacks and use outhouses.

Okay. That last bit is an exaggeration. My point is that everyone needs to be free to live as he or she chooses and not have someone else telling them that the choices they are making are wrong.

If Miss Girl wants to use a neti pot to clear her sinuses, that's just ducky. But if I want to use store bought saline solution for myself or my kids, I don't need her writing a five-page essay on how I'm destroying my nasal cavity AND the Earth because it comes in a plastic bottle.

I don't tell her that she needs to lose approximately 50 lbs to be be healthy. Can she just shut up about whether or not the produce co-op we were invited to join is organic or not? Can you really be that obsessed with your health and be that fat?

See? This is what I'm talking about. I get mean. I don't want to think these things. I want to look at her with compassion and love. And I'm not doing that.

I feel like these honest, human emotions and thoughts are bad. I know that it's wrong of me to think this way. But every interaction with this girl just pushes my buttons. And challenges my beliefs.

I guess people like this are put into our lives to help us stretch and grow and reach for our personal best. It's easy to love the people who are like us and it is harder to love our enemies.

How do I get beyond these feelings of distaste, annoyance, and anger?


Suz said...

So, I guess that's your answer to my question posted on my blog today about neti pots! Hahaha..

Dawn said...

That's hilarious! I had not seen your comment about neti pots.

I know I'm a horrible person. Neti pots are just too much work for me. I have mixed my own saline solution and used one of those baby bulb syringes to snort it and clean my sinuses.

I just don't like having someone who is so constantly granola preaching to me. Ugh.

Suz said...

Hmm. I'm getting desperate. I may try the neti. The spray saline is doing nothing for me.

EHT said...

Inhabit a building full of teachers and you have the same sort of thing going on as you do with the mom group. I too have fought this inner struggle as some people just simply rub you the wrong way. I'm nice but I don't go out of my to engage them in converation. I'd help them if I was needed, but just because I love them as a human doesn't mean I'm going to engage them in every issue. Sometimes you just have to walk away.

Is there any way you can participate with this group, but not engage in conversation with her?

Jen aka Evilynmo said...

You are a better person than me. I wouldn't even be beating myself up over my bad thoughts.

But that's why I love reading about you and your thoughts.

I think the previous poster is right. You just have to avoid interacting and engaging in arguments with this lady. It isn't changing the situation and it is making you really unhappy.

Sometimes the best way to respect someone else and be nice to them is to leave them alone.

That's just my 2 cents though.

Dawn said...


I think you're right. I try to avoid her, but our group has a message board for support, where folks can ask questions, etc. My very first encounter with this woman came when someone was asking for advice on how to get her newborn to take a pacifier. This woman with whom I have such difficulty, attacked her, saying that she shouldn't give the baby a paci, but should breastfeed him instead.

I won't argue the merits of breastfeeding (I did nurse both my sons as long as I was able to). I kind of jumped on her for attacking someone else and said we should be open to the parenting choices of all our members, etc. Then I felt guilty and apologized and tried to make an effort to like her, but she's so combative and believes her choices are the right choices for everyone so intensely that I can't deal with it.

But, your advice is good advice so I will try to keep it mind and know that i can choose to ignore her.

And I need to remember some advice I was given once. A woman I know once told me that when someone criticizes our choices, it's because they are actually insecure about their own.

In this instance, that statement might go both ways.

rennratt said...

It is rather difficult to like someone that refuses to give you a chance.

Constantly being on the defensive has to be exhausting. She wants to fight, to always be right. The others before me are correct. This is probably a girl to walk away from.

From the sounds of it, walking away will be hard due to her strong will. It will, however, be your best bet.

"Loving your neighbor as yourself" sometimes means NOT PARTICIPATING when others bait you. Best of luck, my friend. You are surely in my prayers.

merlotmom said...

I agree with your philosophy to live and let live but then that applies to this woman as well. I have met many women like her and I HAVE NO TOLERANCE FOR THEM. When I was younger I would have battled with them, tried to get them to see my way, but now I agree with your other posters, smile and ignore her as much as possible. Do not engage her. She is who she is and she's not going to change so let her be. Just nod and move on.

Jeremy said...

I'm not sure who coined this phrase, but I find it a good way to put a positive spin on these types of interactions:

"Extra grace required."

I have no clue what a neti pot is. Think I'll find out on Suz's blog.

Wendy said...

This is why I love being Jewish -- we don't have to deal with any of that "love your neighbor" nonsense. As long as you tolerate your neighbor and cause her no harm, you're OK with Yahweh.