You notice that a friend of yours appears to have suddenly begun to ignore you. You have been on very good terms with him for the most part, talking often and at length, and you find the change in him both unsettling and upsetting. This is what you do:
- You pick up the phone to everybody who will listen and complain about much your friend has changed, badmouthing him as much as possible while at it.
- You sulk and wait until your friend and everybody from the paperboy to the milkman notices how upset you are, though you refuse to tell anyone what is wrong.
- You call up your friend and tell him you are a little hurt you haven’t heard from him and ask him what the reason for his silence is.
- You decide that you don't want to have anything to do with a person so unloving - or even the company he keeps - and quit attending the same parties (or prayer group) that he attends.
Adam and Eve should be credited with Original Foolishness, along with Original Sin, because it is the first that led to the other, really. They both knew what they shouldn't do, but still went ahead and did it. While with Adam and Eve, the desire to be Godlike must have been a tremendous temptation to idiocy, most of the bad choices we make are a result of nothing but plain silliness.
This situation (with minor variations like an off-the-cuff remark that one takes offense to, a bad joke, a barbed comment, or a perceived lack of affection/concern/caring) is a case in point and I see it recurring so often, it has ceased being funny, especially because all that is needed to resolve the situation is a willingness to talk!
Keeping the following points in mind might help in taking the right decision.
- Most times when friends hurt you or cause offence, it is unintentional, and it is quite probable that they don't even realize that they have done something to cause you offence. By sulking, or avoiding them, or slandering them, we succeed in doing nothing more than being unloving, which is a sin. And it does nothing whatsoever to solve the problem.
- God tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. (Luke 6:27) If we are prepared to do this, we can begin practicing by loving our friends, which means not changing our attitudes to them, even if they hurt us. In most instances, this is unintentional, as a brief chat with them will undoubtedly reveal.
- We tend to be self-absorbed people, who very often think the world revolves around us and that everything everybody does is directly related to us. It might help to look outside yourself at the other person, and see that the person who is allegedly ignoring us, might be hurting himself, and need you to pay him some attention.
- It wasn't the British who invented the policy of Divide-and-Rule; the devil got there first. And he is constantly at work, sowing seeds of discord and enmity between people. One of his favorite methods is by planting thoughts in your mind that somebody you are close to is ignoring you, talking behind your back, slandering you, treating you unfairly, etc. More often than not we buy into the lies that are fed us and retaliate in the same manner we believe we are being treated. The enemy wins.
I have seen people exercise options (a), (b) and (d) with alarming frequency, and while all responses are bad, the first one is particularly so. As stated above, in most cases the offending party is not even aware that he has caused injury, and probably didn't even mean any. To suddenly subject him to slander or other abuse, just because you want to retaliate, is evil, and I call it such to strongly discourage you from making such attacks.
Exercising option (b) is really silly, and eventually people get fed up of your mournful face, because your reticence to talk will make it appear you are putting on a sad face for effect. Option (d) is purely reactive and serves no purpose. If you keep hopping from party to party (or prayer group to prayer group) because the people in it aren't loving enough, you will resemble a grasshopper with the runs because you will never find a party (or prayer group) where you will be happy.
There is nothing like option (c) to resolve the issue, and I can practically guarantee that it will work each and every time. Try it the next time you are upset with somebody and let me know if it doesn't work!