Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Avoiding Difficult People

Have you ever had to spend time with a difficult person? You know, people for whom:

. Nothing’s ever good. Teachers are lousy. Doctors are ignorant. The Church never does enough for them.

. Family turmoil goes wherever that person goes. Sides are taken. In-laws dread the visit. Spouses grieve their poor decision to marry that person

. Raising children is an obsession. They’re either over-protected or not protected enough. This person goes after coaches and mentors to do more, more, more for their child.

I remember we were out with a couple for a meal and they asked what we’d been doing. We talked about this and talked about that and then Wendy mentioned that we’d had so-and-so over for a meal. So-and-so is a classic difficult person, a FUBAR in the truest sense. And the other woman said, “Be careful. She’ll want to be your friend.”

“Be careful. She’ll want to be your friend.”

That was someone’s advice to us regarding another human being. Hmmm.

Be careful lest you befriend someone who needs to be loved and accepted.

What most “normal” people don’t get is that difficult people are that way for a reason.

Used and abused, neglected and often living with brain damage and / or mental illness. Social interaction is not their strong suit. Their walls are up. Trust is down. Anger, fear and bruised memories lie just below the surface. They try too hard in social situations and they rarely succeed. And here’s the heartbreaking part. Rather than triggering compassion in others, difficult people draw wrath, rebuke and criticism. Difficult people draw gossip and rejection.

Be careful lest you befriend someone in need.

That’s horrible advice, yet many live by that creed. After all, life is short. Who has time to waste on those who probably won’t love you back. Worse, those who wouldn’t be able to show love even if it occurred to them to try.

Understandably, most people avoid difficult people.

Jesus stepped down from His thrown in heaven with the sole intent of walking this earth in the company of difficult people, losers and social outcasts. Jesus stepped down from His thrown in heaven to walk with me, to guide me, to lead me, to love me and to forgive me.

How can we do any less for those who are rejected and shunned because they are difficult to be around?


Elise said...

Darn it, now you've made me stop and think.

Although I don't currently know anyone that I actively avoid for this reason...I do have a friend who I was close to in college. She has three wonderful children, a great husband, a beautiful house...yet every time I go to visit her, she complains. The house is too big, the taxes too high, and she'll downplay every compliment. It got to the point where I don't actively reach out to her anymore -- but in fact I reach out to very few people because my life is so overwhelmingly busy. Poor excuse, I know.

Makarios said...