Monday, September 17, 2012
tough community meetings
Last night, my roommates and I met to discuss a really difficult topic regarding a community member's status in the community. I had been dreading this meeting for about a week and had trouble eating because the butterflies were going to town in my stomach.
I usually find any way I can to avoid conflict and confrontation. And surprise, surprise, I've found that this usually makes uncomfortable situations worse rather than better. Living in community has given me many opportunities to practice approaching conflict in a healthier, more direct way.
I felt so proud of our community last night: each of us approached the conversation with an attitude of humility and prayerful openness. We also used the RESPECT model of communication in our meeting, which allows us to invite the next person to speak and doesn't allow for cross talk or interruption. It works well for our community of introverts and extroverts who have different ways of communicating in groups.
I'm learning that being honest about my feelings and communicating them in a non-violent way does wonders for my relationships. Being straightforward has felt so much better than holding onto feelings and assuming a person understands what I want or will magically fix whatever is bothering me. My relationships in community are stronger when I'm upfront about what I feel and think.
Community sometimes requires really tough decisions. In past roommate situations I might just have let things go until my lease was up. Let things quietly fester, at first hoping they would get better, then realizing that resentment and bitterness had really damaged the relationship. Our community approached this situation head on, and I believe we are stronger and healthier because of it.
These types of honest conversations are helping me approach other relationships in my life differently. My community has been a good practice ground for developing relationships that are based on openness, honesty, and a mutual effort at supporting one another. It's not easy, but it's worth it.