Among your friends and family, who takes the initiative? Who makes the first phone call? Who gets everyone organized to get together? If it is you, then you probably get tired of that role after awhile. Unhappiness over who takes the initiative is a common peace-robbing issue at home and at work.
In my early twenties, I faced this with my best friend. Every Friday I would call and see if he was up for going out. He almost always said yes and we always had a good time. But if I didn’t call, nothing would happen. I felt like our friendship was a one-way street and I felt some resentment creep in. When I later checked into what he did that night, he said, “Nothing!” I began to realize that it just wasn’t his nature to take the initiative on social outings. I accepted my role and as the years went by, he slowly began to pick up the phone from time to time. We remain the best of friends and I would say we are equal initiators now, thirty-some years later.
During the early years of my marriage, I was often unhappy with my wife over this issue, again over social matters. If I didn’t initiate an outing, none occurred. She preferred to relax at home. I had the feeling that her social life rode on my coattails and again, resentment creeped in. When I confronted her about it, she struggled to even see what the heck my problem was! What’s the big deal? Once again, I began to see that this was just her nature. That didn’t stop this issue from bothering me enough to persist with her, but it helped me be more accepting of this quality in her.
I knew from experience that I needed to get neutral about the outcome I wanted – for her to take more initiative in our social life. The more I did, the more I became able to notice little ways in which I could nudge her along. For example, I put her on the email list of my gang of friends so she would know what’s going on without me forwarding things. I began to notice the little moments when she did do something – like initiating a movie night, something she began to do regularly.
Eventually, I came to realize that there is a pattern in human nature that I call Near and Far. One type is the initiator or the chaser. The other is the follower or the chasee. These two marry each other. Much conflict in married life or in any relationship can be explained by this phenomenon. You can read an article on this to learn more called Near and Far Stay Married. If your challenge is at work, you can master this topic by reading Who’s The Driver Anyway?
When we first come to peace with issues that trouble us, we see more clearly what to do, just as Jesus promised in the First Rule of Inner Peace. We surrender our desire to get what we want and then, with God’s grace, we often get it. The best part is that if we don’t get what we want, we are at peace anyway. We can only win and never lose.
May peace be with you and yours today.