Meeting on Edges

The people I know are composites.  They are mixtures of cold and hard positions, as well as, the downright warm and fuzzy.  The way we view others depends on our interactions with them.  If we meet on good terms, it is easier to remain so and vice-versa.  Also, we tend to choose the grounds on which we approach others and their qualities on which we focus.  We smile at the inconsistencies of our friends but find it hard to give our adversaries breaks.  When you throw in the fact of our own biases, it’s a wonder that we can get along with anyone at all.  While one needs a spine, it is important that, at least, we recognize both the validity and variability in all people.

Robert Zimmerman wrote, “‘We’ll meet on edges soon,’ said I, proud ‘neath heated brow.”  If we engage others on the battlefield, the outcome is likely to be different than at the dinner table.  The question for us then is whether or not we can choose terms of engagement.  While, admittedly, circumstances are sometimes beyond our control, it is also true that conditions can be monitored and manipulated (for the better).  It is easier to control others than to control oneself, but a part of maturation is learning to govern self.  As Dylan said, our rough and sharp edges that are surely to cut others, as well as, ourselves are often fueled by pride giving rise to just (?) indignation.

We are often sincere on the wrong points.  Now, sincerity is a fine thing, but it can be a blinding thing.  It’s easy to go into overkill on a deeply-held belief, and that’s not saying the belief is incorrect.  Perhaps, it is even more important to be measured in such cases for we are less convincing when angry.  Each of us blushes with shame as we consider past deeds that would have been better accomplished another way.  I would certainly take back a swing or two at enemies that might have been friends.  If only our approaches were less aggressive, the responses to our overtures might be calmer, as well.  You might be right in position but wrong in disposition.

As years go by, I am more and more grateful for the people who have shown grace to me.  It may be that I have lost the certitude of youth in finding greater understanding of real life.  When we are able to admit we don’t know it all, we open the door for real connection with others and clear the path for God to speak truth into our souls.  In the future, I hope to be less sharp, more subtle and much softer.  Jesus did not break a bruised reed.  I’ve bush-hogged field on field that might have been cultivated to great profit.  I’m not down on myself- I just want to be less down on other people.  God can teach us how to feel for people and, yet, be faithful to His purposes and principles.

Paul said to live in peace with others if it is possible.  Doubtless, we may be forced into conflicts not of our doings or desires, but our relational goals should be serenity not bloodshed.  I’m not known as a compromiser, generally speaking, but I have paid prices in my life for rigidity.  In reflection, each of us may see areas in which we could have given ground without losing the farm.  It can be hard to put on a happy face or stifle a groan, but we are not called as believers to take the easy route.  If I want people to take the best of me and overlook the worst, I will have to offer them the same and be willing to give the benefit of the doubt.  May we meet on a level field and find rest.


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