Saturday, October 13, 2012

Needing My Enemies

In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t Cecil Murphey helps readers accept,
adapt and flourish when the trials of life throw them off track.

In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times (Summerside Press) best-selling author Cecil Murphey writes that while life’s trials and struggles are unavoidable, it’s how a person chooses to respond to the mess that matters.

In a gentle and encouraging way, Murphey offers simple and profound insights for living a significant life such as:

·         I need the empty spaces in life to learn to accept fullness in life.
·         I need my opponents. They often speak the truth that my friends won’t.
·         To appreciate others’ accomplishments enables me to enjoy my own success.
·         We all have regrets about the things we’ve done. The biggest regrets are about the things we didn’t do.
·         It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself or get angry or depressed—that’s normal and natural. But don’t let those negative emotions control your life.
·         Changes will happen. I can accept them now, or I’ll be forced to accept them later.
·         We all have soft spots, and as long as they remain, we’ll automatically switch into a defensive mode to protect ourselves.

Making Sense When Life Doesn’t will leave readers viewing life from a new perspective and better equipped the next time they are faced with difficult times. In the excerpt below, Murphey shares why we need our enemies.

Needing My Enemies
Chapter excerpted from Making Sense When Life Doesn’t by Cecil Murphey ©2012 Summerside Press

His words stunned me. During a seminar break, three of us talked about the negative people in our lives and how difficult they made things for us. Two told stories about cantankerous individuals with whom they had dealt.

I was ready to tell about a particularly offensive person when a fourth man, a stranger whose name I never learned, overheard us and said, “You need your enemies, you know.”

“And why would I need my enemies?” I asked. “Why would I need individuals to make my life worse?”

“You figure it out,” he said and walked away.

One of my friends mentioned how rude the stranger was and that moved the conversation in a different direction. But on the way home, I thought about the comment the intruder made.

Although that happened weeks ago, as I continued to ponder his statement, I’ve decided that he’s right. I need those negative, hateful, harsh, mean-spirited people in my life.

I don’t like what they say, and sometimes I’m offended. A few times I’ve gotten angry over things they’ve done. I’ve resented them and wanted to retaliate by telling them how despicable and insensitive they are. (I haven’t usually done those things, but I’ve thought about them.)

And yet I need those enemies. I need them because my friends affirm the good things in my life. They appreciate me and encourage me. Sometimes they say negative things about me, but I can usually accept the comments. Because they love me, they coat the most critical remarks with warm, loving words.

But not my enemies. They don’t usually try to soften their words but blare them out. I’m not sure if they intend to hurt me (possibly), or if they say it for what they consider my own good (another possibility), or maybe they’re just negative people (could be).

Here’s something I’ve learned—and it hasn’t been easy—those enemies often do us a favor. Think about the coworker who’s always in your face trying to tell you how to do something better. What about the one neighbor who complains frequently about you not mowing your lawn? What about those obnoxious individuals who tell you that you talk too much, don’t talk enough, speak too loudly, or your voice is too soft?

They often lash out and move on. Our immediate instinct, of course, is that they’re wrong. Often they are. If we’re wise, however, we listen to what they say. Sometimes they see parts of us that we haven’t seen or don’t want to face. They push us to admit our imperfections and shortcomings.

On a recent Sunday morning in our church, one of our pastors preached from the Sermon on the Mount—Jesus’ instructions to followers found in Matthew, chapters five through seven. The part that struck me was “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor,’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies!”

“If you don’t like the word enemy,” the preacher suggested, “use opponent,” which was a good synonym. (After all, we were in church, and supposedly we don’t hate anyone.)

As a result of that message, I’ve spent time giving thanks to God for my enemies—whom I define as those who don’t like me or who criticize me. Too often they were right in their criticism but wrong in their delivery.

Those people who belittle me or point out such things enable me to see a side of myself that I wouldn’t choose to admit. They make me a better person because I have to think about what they say. Even when they’re totally wrong, they push me to examine myself, my attitudes, and my motives.

1 comment:

Cec Murphey said...

Thank you for your commentsa bout my book, Making Sense When Life Doesn't. You caught the heart of the message.

I'm sure all writers like good things said about the books. It's especially meaningful when you post your comments.

That was kind of you to do and I appreciate it very much.

Cec Murphety