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…”

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on June 19, 2009, in Christian Living, Extended Family Drama/News, Family, Friendships, Life in the Desert, Sad Things, The Dear Hubby, The Kids, Whining. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies. May your day be full of unexplained peace and even ministry–spoken or otherwise.

  2. newbeginnings09

    These people have an actual type. They’re called emotional vampires. I know LOTS of them. (Does that say something odd about me? Do weird people cling to me? LOL) http://patrickwanis.com/blog/index.php/2009/06/10/dealing-with-emotional-vampires/ Check this out, maybe it will give you a tip or two on how to get through the day.
    If all else fails, you know to call on the Lord to see you through it. He put you in this position and like a VERY good solider, you’re marching into the battle without saying no even though you want to, so He’ll give you a hand out too!
    Good luck hon.

  3. “Emotional vampires”! LOL I like that!

    (((Karen))), I have nothing to add. The others have given you good counsel. Praying for you.

  4. What a tough situation to find yourself in, Karen! I’m so sorry for you and your family to have to deal with this. We have some problems with in-laws too but thankfully they have not gone to this extreme. I pray that all will go well and that she will begin to allow you back into the children’s lives!

  5. can help, I hope it does.

  6. Hi Karen,

    Wow, talk about moving out of your comfort zone. Okay I’m speaking from my perspective as an introvert and one that over analyzes everything. So please read this from that perspective and if any of it can help, I hope it does.

    My life long experience as an introvert is I hate confrontation. Over the last 53 years, the Holy Spirit has help me mature in it. When looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I can see I worried and over analyzed all aspects of the confrontation before it even happened. I have realized that fear was the tool of the enemy to speak his native language of lies to me to keep me off balance. I have prayed not to hear the lies, but the Holy Spirit never did that, I’ve asked to stop over analyzing everything, that hasn’t happened either.

    What I have learned to do is when I “hear” in my spirit anything that results in fear or trepidation, I analyze what is being said. Now if Satan and his crew are speaking lies to me, I analyze the opposite of what is being sent to me, because that is the truth. I then pray and ask God to give me scriptures to back up HIS word to me, to give the truth of the situation to overcome the lies. I pray and meditate on these things. I then pray that the Holy Spirit gives me the gift of faith to ACT on the truth, not the lies.

    Obedience is better than sacrifice. It is HARD WORK in the soul (mind, will, emotions) to do this before the confrontation. This is even harder, as the confrontation is actually happening, to keep my carnal reactions under control and breath and let it happen and remember God is in control.

    When I actually been able to do this, again with 20/20 hindsight, I have found the confrontation wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated it really allowed God to get ME out of the way so He could deal with the other person afterwards. In one case it took over 6 months as I watched God deal with the other person, but in the end the other person grew spiritually by leaps and bounds and I could see that God had used me as a catalyst in the situation.

    Obedience is better than sacrifice again in submitting to your husband in this. My prayer is that God will use you as a catalyst in this family situation and reward you with the things you need for your own family.

    Hope this makes some sense and helps in some way.

  7. Karen,
    While praying for you on this, God spoke to me about dieing to our flesh. In my 30’s, I was in a bible study where God confronted me about how really mad I would get when I would hear teaching on dieing to the flesh. I would get really angry about the whole concept. Finally after years of avoiding God on the issue, He set me up to teach me and I think it applies in this situation to you and your family.

    When we CHOOSE, through obedience to die to our flesh, we open the door to God’s resurrection power in the situation. Jesus CHOSE to let his flesh die on the cross. The result was the resurrection of mankind’s Savior. He was not the savior until AFTER the resurrection and the complete death of His flesh took place. All of eternity was changed in that instance and salvation has been working it’s force through mankind for over the last 2000 years.

    Karen, if you die to your flesh and your deep seated dislike of this woman, and deal with this one time situation, then God’s supernatural resurrection power can step in and minister to you and this woman. Doesn’t mean your going to be her best friend or that you even like her when it is over. But somehow, someway, God is giving you an opportunity to touch eternity in this one situation. It may not happen in one day or one year, but it will happen.

  8. millenialhomemaker

    I’m praying for you on this. I feel the same way you do… I like everybody, well, mostly everybody. But, I have to say that I like my alone time, too. So, you will be in my prayers!
    I hope the party goes well for you all!
    Let’s talk soon!

  9. Karen, I’m praying for you on this, and know it will all be fine, because God has a plan for you both. Let us know how it goes!!


  10. When we give a gift, we are asked to give it with a full heart, for if we give it bemoaning the giving, it is worse than not giving it at all…. I don’t know if you know anything about the LDS church (I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to know you very well), but someone pointed out to me recently that many of us are a lot more like Laman and Lemuel (from the Book of Mormon) than we would like to think. You see, they DID the things they were supposed to do. They just did them and complained and grumbled about it the whole time. That is not upright, nor is it righteous, nor is it True. We are supposed to be striving to be those good things… not murmuring. Having said that, I’m sure you must know that I’m not upright, righteous, and true at all times. I’m certainly not. But since I’m commenting on your post, I just want to say that I hope you will pray for a big heart and a miracle… the miracle I’m thinking of is to see something redeeming in the mother of your nieces that you might even be able to admire. I wish you well!

    • Hi, Tori! It’s very nice to see you back. 🙂

      I must say, I’m not certain of the intent of your comment. Is it (gentle) chastisement? I definitely agree that a gift given with a bad attitude defeats the purpose. We’re asked to give cheerfully, not just give. However, I’m not sure how that relates to the “story” of my ex-SIL. Of whom, by the way, there is much to admire. She is definitely not without merit. She has a ready laugh, the loveliest green eyes I’ve ever seen, keeps a fastidious home, works hard to keep her size 0 jeans fitting nicely… But, I find it very difficult to maintain with her a relationship that is even remotely peaceful, and surely, I am to blame for at least some of that. 😉 We grate against each other; it’s not just her, most certainly.

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