I’m going to write an entry of the variety that I’ven’t written in quite some time: the complain about friends and acquaintances in my life and how I’ve reacted to them. I’ven’t written one of these in quite some time, because in general they cause more grief, make relations with friends difficult (since they never know what’ll end up in a blog entry), and just generally are a reenactment of teenage angst, which I’m more or less beyond since well, I’ve been on the planet for 31 years.
I have a friend through church who recently ended our friendship. The conversation that immediately proceeded her decision to end our friendship played out over Facebook. It was one of the most brutal, violent, and cruel interactions that I’ve had online or offline. I’m still smarting and a bit dumbfounded by the magnitude of the anger I encountered.
In the message that ended our friendship, she cited “unsolicited advice” as being the core reason why she ended the friendship. This in and of itself needs a bit more elaboration; unsolicited advice is something that her parents used to “control” her. I don’t know the full history between her and her parents. Ultimately, we all carry baggage from our past that affects with how we interact with those in the present. However, we are not simply amalgamations of pavlovian responses culled from our previous interactions. We humans have the ability to recognize how we have been affected by our previous interactions and adjust our behaviors accordingly.
I remember a morning I was working at McDonald’s and a woman came in and verbally abused me and my fellow crew members. The store manager came up from the grill area, punched a refund into the register, handed the woman her money, and told her to leave. Upon my inquiry, the store manager, said that the woman was probably mentally ill.
Ten minutes or so later the same woman came into the store, ordered a sandwich, apologized, and was a model customer.
I’ve kicked around what I should do if my former friend approaches me to re-establish our friendship. I believe that redemption and change are possible, however I am not sure I am ready to offer my ex-friend my other cheek. I truly believe in the second Unitarian Universalist Principle, “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;” I believe that this is owed to all people, including and especially those who we disagree with those people we consider our enemies. I was not treated by my former friend in a way that remotely resembled our second principle.
I try to practice grace, humility, kindness, and forgiveness in my life. However, in this instance I cannot bring myself to practice forgiveness. That is what she has taken from me.