I called a chapter “Needing My Enemies” in my book
Making Sense When Life Doesn’t. The host on a radio interview asked, “Why do you want enemies?”
“I don’t want enemies,” I said, “but I need them. And if the word enemies is too strong, try opponents.”
“I wrote that because our opponents force us to hear things about ourselves that our friends won’t say.” I told her about a conversation years ago that turned into an argument. The woman became quite enraged and finally yelled, “You always have to be right!”
Afterward, I replayed the incident inside my head. The words stung and I mentally defended myself. After reflection, I admitted she was correct in charging me with needing to be right.
By contrast, my good friends wouldn’t have said those words. They would have shrugged and said, “That’s the way Cec is.”
Even though our opponents aren’t always accurate and are often unkind, we need to sift whatever they say. Truth often lurks in their angry charges. That day I listened and it brought about a distinct change in my attitude and behavior.
Twenty years after the incident, the accusing woman and I talked together. We had long moved beyond our differences. She asked me a question and I said, “I have a couple of ideas, but I don’t know.”
“You’ve changed,” she said. “You used to know everything.”
We both laughed. But she was right.
I finally figured out that I don’t have to be the authority or the know-all-things person. In fact, my enemies have helped me grasp that it’s all right to be ignorant about some things.
I don’t want enemies—but they find me anyway. Even though I still don’t want them, I also admit I need them.
My detractors force me to see myself more honestly. It’s not easy, but it’s important if I want to grow.
For more hope and humor visit themanbehindthewords.com