I like everyone, except…
I like everybody.
That’s not to say that I want everyone to be my best friend. There are people that I definitely get along with more than others. And, it’s not to say that everyone likes me. And, I’m sure that there are people out there, whom I’ve never met, who I would absolutely abhor. But, of all the people with whom I’ve even held a passing acquaintance, I’ve enjoyed at least a little conversation with them.
In fact, in many an elementary classroom, my desk was placed nose-to-nose with the teacher’s, because it didn’t matter where s/he placed me; I would talk with anyone.
Except for one. There was one guy, Joad, who weirded me out, bad. He was in my 5th grade class. I wasn’t all that surprised to hear that he ended up killing someone. I spent a few minutes Googling his name, and the man has a very troubled history with the law.
But, scary history aside, I like everyone. There’s no one that I dread being around, or running into.
I’m even an introvert. A complete introvert. I totally need time alone to recharge, but if I am with others, what I prefer is to be in conversation with them. I love conversation. I particularly am interested in how people end up where they are — their physical location, their relationships, their job, there general circumstance in life, and what led them to that point. I find that fascinating. I also tend to think that no relationship is simply by chance, so my antennae are up in even small encounters, to see what God might have in mind — maybe He just wants to brighten my day, or theirs. Maybe He has something for me to share with them. Maybe He’s giving me a potential friend. Maybe He’s giving me some fodder for prayer. Whatever. It’s all good.
So, no matter who you are, I’d enjoy spending at least a little time with you.
Except for one person. One person.
I’ve know this woman for about 16 years, and she has been a challenge to me that whole time. She pushes buttons I didn’t even know I had. Her values, perspectives, the way she communicates, everything, are totally opposite mine. I do not like her. I do not trust her. I could write a book about the negative interactions in our history. There is no one in this world — NO ONE — of whom I could say similarly. If I never saw her again, it would be too soon.
It’s not like she exists so that God can bring me into maturity, but as far as her existing in MY life, that’s the best I can make of it. I see no positive benefit beyond that. Interaction with her requires me to summon all of my best efforts — and beyond — of self control, graciousness, benefit of doubt, kindness, peacefulness, etc. After even a tiny bit of any kind of time with her, I am absolutely drained. I pray, pray, pray the entire time I’m with her. I pray, pray, pray every time I talk with her, or respond to an e-mail from her. I measure my words. I consider what I’m saying twice, even three times, before it comes out of my mouth. I even think, “If my pastor’s wife could hear what I’m saying, and how I’m saying it, would she approve?” I do that just to make sure I’m not flying off the cuff, saying something unwise that I’ll regret.
There’s all sorts of reasons why I should probably have compassion and understanding for why she is the way she is, but I’ve wearied of summoning that, and find myself no longer able to do so. I’ve just had it, for eternity, with her.
She’s also the mother of two of my neices and one nephew. She’s the ex-wife of my husband’s brother.
About a year and a half ago, we had a run-in, whereby she badgered me into telling her whether or not I approved of her divorcing my brother-in-law. I knew she wouldn’t like (HUGE understatement) my answer, so I brushed her questions aside. I avoided her calls. I answered her e-mails as thoroughly as I could, but not addressing that one issue. Finally, when she pressed, I told her that, no, I don’t think it was right for her to divorce him.
She then banned me from her children.
I tried several times, and in several ways to get to see them. But, it was not to be. Her response was, “If Karen’s going to be there, my kids won’t be allowed to go.” I even ran into a different former in-law (from her side of the family), and he said that he would set up a party and invite her kids and our family, too, without telling her, so that I could see them. However, I knew that that would incur wrath, and it didn’t feel quite honest. So, I declined.
She will be in my home on Tuesday.
On birthdays, we typically have a dinner at home, where we invite various extended family members. Then, usually on the following weekend, the birthday kid can do something with their friends. This past Monday, we were discussing this, and Martin said, “I was praying this morning, and I really felt like God was telling me to invite N— and the kids to Ethan’s birthday.”
I can’t tell you how hard my stomach sank.
A) I honor my husband. If he says, “Let’s do this!” then unless I have some really, really, really good reason not to, I do it. Pitching fits like, “I don’t like her!” don’t qualify as any kind of good reason. And, B) if he said that God told him, then I believe him, which means that God wants her here, which means that God wants me/us to have some sort of significant role in something in her life. I’d rather have her as far from me, as long as possible.
So, it’s not like I could say no to my husband and no to God. I have to say yes.
I have tears in my eyes right now, and my stomach is in knots, because I am so not wanting — with all that’s in me — to spend any kind of time with her.
I adore my neices, especially the youngest one. She’s dear to my heart, and looks exactly like Audrey, except eight years older. All her baby pictures look just like Audrey. It breaks my heart that I haven’t seen her, nor my other neice or nephew (who is actually from a relationship previous to my brother-in-law, so he’s not technically my nephew, but I’ve known him since he was a baby, and he’s really a wonderful young man).
If nothing else, I’ll be thrilled to see the kids.
Wait. I just called my hubby to see if he wouldn’t mind us all meeting at the park by our house, instead of in our home. He said that would be fine. Whew. The neutral ground of a park sounds much less… threatening than having her in my home. Ugh. It’ll be warm. But, the breezes will blow, the kids can run and play, the grown-ups can talk, it’ll be all right.
See, blogging is good! It lets me process things. Just the simple idea of us meeting at the park instead of our home lifts a LOAD off my shoulders. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. Well, yes I do. Normally, in the desert, we don’t plan birthday stuff for out-of-doors in the summer. It’s just too hot. But, I will definitely bend the plan this time and we’ll just sweat it out. In more than one way. 😉
ETA: About five minutes after I posted this, I started thinking, “Well, I really didn’t like this person, or that person…” But pretty much everyone, even the people I don’t thoroughly like, have had some redeeming feature that made me respect, or admire, or appreciate, or relate with, or laugh at, or something good. So, maybe I should have entitled this post “I don’t totally dislike anyone, except…”