Learning to Spot the Villain Within

Yesterday in my counseling session, my therapist and I were discussing if I was ready to decrease the frequency of our sessions. Of course, she turned it around on me and asked me if I thought I was ready. I went on to discuss for the entire session how the process of therapy has helped me in that last year and a half. One of the ways I've grown is that I no longer have to villainize someone in order to feel good about disagreeing with them. Before, if I wanted to validate my own feelings or thoughts, I had to make sure that the opposing viewpoint was "bad" or at least, "less than" my own. And, if we're going way back, I used to feel the need to belittle the motives or the very personhood of those holding opposing viewpoints because I truly couldn't imagine anyone who was (insert positive attribute here) and believed those things. 
I find this personal evolution to be of great value. To be frank, I'm really proud of and happy for myself! It's allowed my black and white brain to hold things I used to deem mutually exclusive as both true in some form. For example, when we were fired from ministry, we were hurt very deeply. The very process of being fired, especially from something so all-encompassing and personal as ministry, is deeply disturbing. It rocked our world. It was also painful because we felt it was handled poorly. In the process of grief and in the passing of time, I've come to the conclusion that the job loss was a life-altering event for both of us, that some of what happened was truly wrong and that those involved in the hurting are not terrible, hateful people. Those three things couldn't all sit together in my mind before, particularly those last two. If we were hurt and we decided that "they didn't know any better" then we were dishonoring or dismissing our pain. And if they did know better, then they were hurting us intentionally and we don't want to have anything to do with them (this also makes the brain conclude we're nothing like them). And the "we're all human" band-aid people love to put on pain is really just a free pass on anything we don't really want to feel. Now, I can hold both realities. I was hurt. They messed up. There was some truth to some of the things they said and did. They cared about us. They didn't want to crush us. But they didn't want us to run the ministry anymore. That's a challenging reality to be in. But this is the reality. 
I've had the pleasure of engaging in a lot of sensitive dialogue on social media lately. Our nation is wrestling with so much. And man, I am a passionate person, particularly about anything related to social justice. I believe the part of me that gets irate on behalf of the welfare of others is a good thing and is from God. What got me in trouble before (and that still makes itself known on occasion) is when I lose sight of the humanity of those I oppose. When we stop listening, stop imagining what it might be like to be someone else, stop seeing the good intent behind what we deem a wrongly held viewpoint, we awaken the villain within. I'm pleased to say that I no longer feel the need to use my anger (that's sometimes righteous) as a weapon to validate myself. I'm learning to hold two opposing realities. This is making me a better listener, a better lover of people and even a better advocate. We can get so much more done when we discuss sensitive things in a kind way. But the kindness has to be real, not patronizing. If you're not feeling kind, don't post! Read and learn from others. Our world will be a much better place when we tame the villain within and open our minds and our hearts to the possibility of change.