Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm Taking Lessons - Be Patient...

I've been called a tyrant twice this week. No, not by my wife, she has other descriptions that are favorites with her. Those words came from cyclists. Imagine that. One cyclist, on a public website forum, called me both an "anarchist and a tyrant" in the same sentence. I didn't point out in my reply that those words describe people of opposite political objectives. He was clearly angry; he indicated that I am not in step with public opinion, not close to achieving popularity, and should listen more and keep my mouth shut. That last one might be hard for me.

Another cyclist, a few days later, said that I have no tact, and that he would sometimes like to "f***ing blow me up himself". He went on to compare me to Saddam Hussein. (I don't think that was a compliment. I'm not sure.) Good thing he was a Christian man, he might have really expressed his feelings.

What should be my response? Sorry? Sorry I am not perfect? Sorry I'm not who you would like me to be? I could do that. I won't. Let me say that there is never any excuse for bad behavior. (I'll repeat this later in case you feel that in the following I excuse bad behavior.)

I am who I am. Over the years, I've really tried to be perfect. (Believe it or not.) I've read all the self-help books, listened patiently to my critics and tried to change to suit them. I've worked on everything from my tone of voice, to my facial expressions, even my guitar playing style. (A really dear friend who has gone on to rest in Jesus once told me that my guitar playing style was "like an act of violence". He was angry with me at the time. I continued to play with him, although I really tried to change. Two days before his death, I visited him and brought my guitar along. After playing and singing a few gospel songs to him, we talked over old times. In a weak voice, he told me that I was talented, but just wouldn't listen to anyone. He meant him. I played at his funeral, and several months later, I played at his widow's next wedding. I really tried to play with a style he would have approved of. I don't know if I succeeded. But I tried.)

Even my wife often expresses a wish that I was different man. You know, a perfect one. I can't blame her. I am hard to live with. I have faults. (I'm not excusing bad behavior; remember that!). I only mention my wife (the one with no faults), to indicate that even when we love someone and are committed to them, it's easy to try to change them (or force them to change themselves) to fit our idea of what they should be like. Even if they need to change their guitar playing style.

The cyclist who said I was an unpopular, out-of-touch, deaf tyrant has faults. The cyclist who wanted to "f***ing blow me up himself" has faults. You have faults. I have faults. So what? Who decided that James Dobson, or Dr. Phil, or even the "O" has the formula for perfection? Who said I need to be perfect anyway? I'M NOT EXCUSING BAD BEHAVIOR; I am saying that imperfect people fill our planet, our churches, our homes, our cycling clubs, and even our mirror.

Here's something for you to work on while I try to change myself to fit your image of who I should be: work on being more tolerant of people with faults - people like me. Then if I am finally so flawed that I'm unable to change, you will be one step ahead of the game, and a little more perfect, if that's possible.

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