Monday, July 23, 2012

The Mean Thing

Recently a good friend posed the question to me, "Why is it so hard to be mean?"  You need to understand she was not really talking about being mean spirited.  She was actually talking about someone who did not respect them or her.  She feared it was going to require a confrontation to make this other person understand, there was not going to be a relationship between them.

We all have run into that kind of person, the ones who make us a little crazy.  They want to be our best friends yet they criticize our decisions, our hair style, our homes, our children and the list could go on.  Nothing is off bounds to these people, and we ofttimes have the added challenge of being related to such people.  They feed off of us and shaking them loose is like trying to lose a tick.  It requires a force applied at the right time.

So the history with my friend was that she was dealing with a blood sucking leach.  Someone who drained the life and the joy out of her life between her criticism, snarky comments, gossip and taking other's for granted.  My friend had managed to put distance between herself and this person but alas, she was found out.  Coming out of a storefront she saw the person and managed to camouflage herself in the crowd.  But she knows that living and shopping in the same area, they are bound to meet up again.  Now she is working on how to reject the relationship so that the woman who apparently doesn't understand the word "no" very well will understand that my friend is not open to renewing the friendship.

I suggested that when she was asked for her cell number that she politely tell this woman "I'm unable to do that."  I suggested that she owes no explanation beyond that.  It's boundaries issues.  My friend told me I had no concept of what kind of woman she was dealing with...the kind that will stalk and search until she finds just where MY friend lives.  Then she will demand to the why's...why did you move, why did you sell your house, why did you not tell me...and so on.  We all know that our personal business should remain OUR personal business.   Again I told my friend she's going to have to be firm.  To which she moaned..."Why is so hard to be mean?"

Our other friends piped up to assure it's because she is nice and because it feels wrong to not be friends with someone.

I gave this some thought today and had such an illuminating moment that I had to stop and write about it.  Particularly those who are raised within the body of believers, we are raised with the concept that other's come first before our own needs.  You remember the Jesus first Others second and Yourself last?  We have gone off on such a direction that we really do not understand how to take care of ourselves.  We consider OUR need last, even if it comes to our health....even our mental health.  We are led to believe that being the "good" Christian means sacrificing self for the good of others.  Sometimes God requires that, but I believe if he is calling us to that He makes it "perfectly clear to the profoundly stupid" that this is what He is requiring of us.

The illuminating thought today was that this is part of the reason we feel it's hard to be mean....because it is not "Christian" of us.  It goes against everything we have been taught.  But I questioned, why is it mean?  My friend is not denying friendship to just anyone, but to someone who has already demonstrated bad habits and behaviors.  These are habits and behaviors that God certainly doesn't want her to be included in or even subjected to.  So in fact, my friend is NOT being mean but following the leading of the Holy Spirit who is throwing out the red flag...hold up, slow down....danger, danger....whatever slows down the drive to please people.

We have incorrect perceptions of what is mean.  Gossip, criticism, sarcasm - they are all mean.  It is intended to tear down one person in order to feel better about ourselves.  THAT is mean.  We often get called "mean moms" when we won't let our darlings have ice cream before supper, or go out to play in the streets, or run with scissors regardless of how fun it looks.  It is not the mom's intent to be mean.  She is being protective.  Being protective is NOT the same as being mean.

If you have ever been in a codependent relationship you know how difficult it is to get out of.  That person makes you responsible to make them feel good about themselves, to cope with their life and to be their savior so they don't have to look for the real one.  I've been in that kind of relationship myself, and it sucks the very life out of you.  You can't do too much for that kind of person and what you can do is not enough for them.

So to clarify for my friend Paula who feels like she has to channel some kind of meanness, I offer instead that you are not being mean.  You are being protective and following the Holy Spirit's leading that this person is not a good addition to your life.  She is the equivalent to running with scissors in your hand.  Speak in a kind, sympathetic tone if it helps you feel better.  But it comes down to it, God doesn't want this person in your life any more than you do.  So when she wants your cell number or asks to meet you for lunch, you can in all truthfulness tell her, "I'm sorry but I am not at liberty to do that right now.  God has given me clear direction that I have to cut back and scale down.  I am not to take on new responsibilities, challenges or even friendships that might distract me.  I am to concentrate on serving Him, husband and family."

Most people, even codependent ones are going to hesitate to argue with God's call on your life.  It sounds so spiritual doesn't it?  But even if she should argue, you can simply walk away knowing that you were not being mean.  You were seeking to keep God in control.  God knows that allowing a blood sucking leach move in on your time, mind and spirit will cause him more grief than politely blaming HIM for not renewing a destructive relationship.  It's not mean.    It's accepting that not all things are beneficial.  It's protective.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea that being protective and being mean are two different things. Good point. The equivalent of running with scissors is good too! Love it!