I lost a friend today. This pattern has repeated itself many, many times.
He was a good friend. He was always there when I needed him. Never did anything to displease me. Always doing exactly what I expected of him. But then, for a time, we didn’t communicate much. He wrote me e-mails and left messages on my phone but I just didn’t get around to responding for awhile.
Then I heard that he was doing some things that displeased me. So I sent a preacher friend of mine to tell him I was displeased with what he was doing. The preacher reported back that my friend had seemed surprised and little irritated at the message. He told the preacher: “He hasn’t said anything to me about it. I don’t think your message was from Him at all. I’ll change what I am doing when He tells me.”
That response displeased me. He was rejecting my messenger! My cell phone rang. It was my friend. I didn’t answer it. He left a message telling me that what my preacher friend had told him. He said he had just called to ask me if that message really was from me. He’d be happy to change his ways if I just let him know. That displeased me. I had already sent my messenger and he was refusing to listen unless I danced to his tune and communicated with him on his terms!
Clearly I would need to take some greater steps to get his attention. So that night I went over to his house and threw some poisoned meat over his fence into his yard. His dog ate it and died. But he did not get the message. He did not understand that I killed his dog to send him a message to change his ways. He insisted on thinking that his dog died simply because some criminal poisoned it! He did call again and left another message asking where I was and if I cared about him anymore. I didn’t call him back.
I clearly had to step up the communication level to get his attention and get him to stop doing the things that displeased me. So I distracted the driver of a semi just as it arrived at the same intersection as his wife. The resulting crash left her seriously injured. But still my friend would not accept the message. He refused to see that this was a warning to him to change his ways. He insisted on believing that the accident happened because some semi driver was not paying attention and ran a red light! He did call again though. Said he was beginning to wonder if I existed or if I wanted to be his friend anymore. He hadn’t heard from me in awhile. Hadn’t heard from me? This was the third message of increasing intensity I had sent him and he would not accept that it was his own misbehavior that was causing these problems; he was questioning me. Me!
I tried one more time. I saw to it that his son was exposed to and contracted polio. Left him crippled. My friend called again and said he really wanted to talk to me. He hadn’t heard from me in awhile and he really needed to talk because of all the bad stuff going on in his life. He asked me to come over and see if there was anything I could do to help his son recover. But he still refused to heed the message I had sent him four times and change his ways. So I didn’t return the call. If he ever does decide to quit displeasing me, then I will probably give him a call. But until he does I guess he is not my friend anymore. That saddens me, but there is nothing I can do.
Why didn’t I just return his calls and talk to him about the things that displeased me instead of wrecking his life? Why, because I choose to work in mysterious ways, of course. And besides, who are you to question my method of communication with my friends? Oh, and I am apparently quit passive aggressive by nature.
(Inspired by an exchange I witnessed between a minister and a parishioner who was going through hard times in which the minister advised the parishioner that his perception of silence from God and some bad things happening to him were his own fault for not paying his tithe faithfully, failing to go to church every Sunday and failing to avoid some minor sins.)