Let me start this post exactly like I started the last one: This week has been a tough week. I don't know what else to say. I've been dealing with a "situation" for quite a while that reared it's head again this week.
Three years ago this month, my favorite lady in the entire world died. My grandma was the only person I really ever wanted to grow up to be like when I was a kid. She was sweet and kind and always had a smile on her face, plus her fried chicken and mashed potatoes were out of this world!
After her funeral, we received a rather hateful letter from a mentally ill relative attacking Glen, and though some of what he said can be attributed to the fact that he was grieving, most was just an outlet to spew hate. He said very hurtful things to Glen regarding his ministry, saying he was hypocritical because he hadn't consoled him at the funeral. Umm - he was consoling me and our kids (who were 8 and 10 years old). My gut reaction was to fire a letter back defending my husband, but Glen asked me not to - it would only fuel the fire. A few weeks later, we received another one. This one was worse and he even threw in a few curse words for flavor. Again, I didn't reply. Over time, with much prayer, I forgave him, though he never asked for it or gave an apology. Though I forgave him, I knew we couldn't open ourselves up to that kind of abuse again. Even if he has a mental illness. Somehow for three years I have avoided being around him, but this weekend was my cousin's wedding.
A few days before the wedding I received a private message from him on Facebook that simply said, "hi". When I realized he was on Facebook, I was immediately overcome with anxiety. He would definitely ask to be my friend. What do I do? This would open me up to his comments anytime he had a whim to leave one - no matter how angry or depressed he may feel at the time. I simply replied, "hi!".
I tried to be cordial at the wedding. I waved and said hello. I smiled from afar, but I didn't speak privately to him. Immediately after the wedding I stood outside of the church talking to family I hadn't seen in years, while he waited in a car to be driven home. In my head I went back and forth between wanting to reconcile and wanting to make sure I protect my husband. I had pretty much decided I would try to be Facebook friends and see how it works out. After all, he had behaved at the wedding and I could always delete him later.
When I came home after the wedding, I had two messages from him - and a friend request. The first message simply said that the wedding was beautiful, it was good to see me and he wished we had gotten a chance to talk. The second message was sent exactly one minute after the first and it said, "Have you ever heard of reconciliation? Or forgiveness?". That's all. Nothing else. No apology. Not asking for reconciliation or forgiveness, but have I ever heard of it?....
Immediately I knew this "friendship" could not work out. Though I love him and only want the best for him, I must decline for now. I don't make this decision lightly, and I've prayed diligently over this matter. He is a Christian and has many Christian friends. Hopefully he'll find what he needs in those relationships.
I have always been a defender of this relative and his many "moods" - even before I knew it was mental illness. After working at a mental health center, I grew to understand a little more about his illness, but I must confess, it's still a mystery to me.
In the ministry, you become a target. People hold you up on a pedestal and expect you to be perfect and accomplish things no one else can, then they say and do hurtful things when you can't. I was reminded last week that my confidence is in Christ alone, but also how important it is to place yourself around people who believe that very thing. When you start doubting your call or where God has you, Christian friends will encourage you and lift you up, reminding you where your strength comes from. "Enemies" will remind you just how incapable you are to complete any task, much less those of Christ, until you doubt you were ever called in the first place. I only have Christ to model my life after and it's clear that while He ministered to many people from many walks of life, His friends that He surrounded Himself with were like-minded with the same focus.
I'm sure this isn't goodbye forever. I've realized that though Facebook is wonderful for connecting with people and keeping in touch, I don't think it's the way to go in this situation. Eventually I'll be open to other forms of communication like letter writing, but just not eager to get knocked down again so quickly.
Tough decision? Yes. The right decision? Only God knows for sure.