Forcing the Issue

Bonnie Raitt sings, “I can’t make you love me, if you don’t.” And that is so true. Although we want to have people love us, love can not be forced.

I am learning as I get older to only think about, write about and work on what I can control. I cannot control anyone else’s thoughts or their actions. I CAN control what I say, think and write. Having this mindset has stopped me from writing some things and frees me up to write many more things.

I am learning not to stress over things that are not mine to stress over. I have plenty in my own life to worry about without taking on things I have no business in.

I can not force you to agree with me on anything. I can only share what I think and then listen to what you think. If we go round and round, never getting any closer in thought, then eventually we might have to agree to disagree and part ways.

I have recently had to do just that with someone close to me. After a constant state of being upset by them, I realized that I was never going to see eye to eye with this person. I told them that I understand their right to live their life as they see fit and that although I do not understand their ideas at all, I will bow out and let them live that life.

Tim and I have a saying that I probably shouldn’t share, but it fits well here. “I hope they have a wonderful life, as long as it is away from me.”

I struggle with this because I think that is part of what is dividing us as a nation. I can’t force anyone to feel the way I do about things. I also know that I can not hide away from everyone who thinks differently. We need a dialogue, we need to share ideas and try to collaborate and compromise. Some of the things dividing the country seem to be non-negotiable. I think the other side feels the same way, so where does that leave us?

I can not understand how you can say you are a Christian and then find hate for anyone in your heart. OR judge others. OR hurt others. I know we are all fallen and doing the best we can, but if you constantly get on your bullhorn and spew out hate while holding a Bible, I just don’t get it. And where is the negotiating point in that?

I can’t understand how you think forcing someone who feels hurt or marginalized to be patriotic will actually make them feel more patriotic. If you forced me to stuff down a Krispy Kreme donut, I would probably throw it up, although left to my own devices I could probably eat a dozen of them. Although there are places in the world where you are forced to act a certain way or do a certain thing, America is not that place. Being forced to “act” a part doesn’t necessarily change your thoughts and heart anyway.

Forced patriotism isn’t patriotism. Forced love isn’t love. Forced friendship isn’t friendship.

The person I had to pause from my life thinks that only their way is right, only their opinion is worthy and their feelings are the only valid feelings. It is that mindset that is dividing the whole world right now. And it makes me sad.

I know stepping away doesn’t solve anything. But somehow I have to think there needs to be a two way street ┬áin any relationship. Stomping off doesn’t solve anything, but staying and railing against a brick wall doesn’t help anything either. I felt that I had to step away to gather my thoughts, regain my strength and make intelligent decisions on how to proceed. Even Jesus had to step away sometimes, surely I can take a minute.

I also know that I have to take some blame. Disagreements are a two way street. From my perspective I think I am right, but I have no doubt the other person thinks I am not. I can almost hear them ranting that I am being selfish and stubborn. When I think about it, maybe I am. Maybe in my moments away I will see those traits in myself, not just in my adversary. Growing should be a part of every experience.

For now, I see this hurt as a microcosm of the world around me. It only magnifies the feelings that I have personally to see such division on the news, in the street, as well as in my heart. I have so many questions. I will take my time and look for the answers.

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.