Venting is Overrated . . .

8 Aug

Ephesians 5:19, 20, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Have you ever been “social climbed”?  That term may be old-fashioned, but the principle isn’t.  It is when someone makes friends with you because they want to be part of a group of which you are part, or just to meet someone else you know.

You can tell it has happened because once the person has achieved her objective, she stops being friends with you.

I have had this happen a couple of times in my life.  It is never fun.

Once a church friend became really interested in meeting people from my homeschool groups.  Once she had been introduced in several of my groups, she not only became best friends with one of the leaders, almost totally ignoring me, but she left the church to attend where others from the group were attending.  Oops!

I have also had friends call various groups “clique-y” and say those groups needed to spend more time welcoming newcomers until those friends were themselves on the inside.  At that point, they stopped talking about caring for newcomers, because they weren’t newcomers anymore.

Our human nature is not necessarily very attractive.  It can be very focused on making all the right connections for itself and not very worried that anyone else feel included.  Oops!

Sometimes the social tactics we saw in seventh grade still seem apparent as adults.  Oops!

So what do we do when someone uses us to get to a social goal they have set for themselves?

I am going to say, do nothing.  That is what I have done.  This is not to hold myself up as some paragon of virtue, because I have definitely written about these things in my journal, pouring the feelings they engender out to God.  It is never pleasant to be in the moment when you realize that someone you thought was a close friend really doesn’t regard you the same way.

That is the moment when you rehearse the verses above, reminding yourself that the Lord is enough and the Lord is sovereign.  If you truly needed that friend in order to have a complete life, the Lord would not withhold any good thing from you.  So, if He has sovereignly changed circumstances, you can trust Him that that change is right for you!

And, thankfully, most of us don’t have this type of situation happen too many times anyway.

I truly recommend just letting that person go without saying much of anything to her.  I think this is a question of choosing our battles wisely.  There are times it is really important to take a stand against another person, times when doctrinal errors are being made and people are being led astray.  These social situations don’t seem to be that time.

If someone is a social climber, that is between that person and God.  If she uses me, she might use other people, too.  But it is not for me to go around warning people about her.  We all have discernment.  We all need to use it.  Anything other than that would be gossip.

Would I even warn my pastor if this person rejoined our church?  No, I don’t think so.  She might have grown since she did what she did to me years ago.  And, if not, I think my pastor is pretty good at sniffing out insincerity.

We really can just focus on being thankful, folks.  Singing in our hearts to the Lord.  He is totally capable of taking care of the rest.

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4 Responses to “Venting is Overrated . . .”

  1. singingsoprano August 8, 2012 at 4:46 AM #

    There is much more that could be said in this post and may be said in later posts. The option of whether or not to talk to someone who has, until now, seemed to be a good friend, is surely yours and cannot be framed with hard and fast rules. I think you simply will know at the time how much to say. In the case I presented (which happened over ten years ago, by the way, so I am pretty sure that, if the person should read this, she won’t recognize herself), there were a thousand little clues that it was not going to be worthwhile to ask what had happened to our friendship. So I went with that and concentrated on the friends who truly wanted to spend time with me! Always a good move, that!

  2. singingsoprano August 8, 2012 at 4:50 AM #

    I will add that, if we decide to not speak to a friend about one of these sticky situations, we also are constrained, by scripture, to not tell anyone else about it. The Scripture is very clear on gossip. If we have not made an attempt to mend the relationship, then we don’t really know for sure what is in the mind of the other person. And presuming we know what they are thinking, then spreading that presumption around to others is just wicked. I can’t call it anything else, because God Himself says gossip is deadly. You will not find anyone who can identify who that is in my post because, until this moment, I never said anything. I don’t think even my family could do it.

  3. Jennifer Morris August 8, 2012 at 7:25 AM #

    I have to agree with you on all notes. As I have grown older, and wiser, I have learned to hold my tongue. When I see the person again, I (try to) treat them as if nothing happened. Two wrongs do not make a right and perhaps my actions will have effect and will change the other.

    • singingsoprano August 8, 2012 at 8:11 AM #

      Jennifer, good tactic. While agreeing totally with you, I thought of something else. Sometimes Christians take an extreme view that actually makes an idol of Greek stoicism (that was the group of people in ancient times whose attitude was “Hit me with your best shot. You’ll never see me crying”). Anytime we get locked into a “one response fits every situation” framework, we can risk losing relationship to God, and thus to others, by our inflexibility.

      I know you well enough to know that you are not prone to extremes like that, but there can be Christians who almost seem to treat hurts from others as things that always need to be swallowed back with no reaction whatsoever. I think there is a time and a place to tell someone that they have hurt you. What they do with that is up to them, but I do support being transparent, at least with the people in the Body of Christ who are closest to us.

      I had a time (and this friend may be reading this right now) when I hurt someone in the Body of Christ and she hurt me so badly that we had to withdraw from our conversation in tears. We both were so emotionally invested in the issue we could not move forward at that moment Over a week later, we sat down and (now calmly) talked things out and were reconciled to each other. That will occasionally occur, too, even for those of us who try to avoid drama.

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