Jump directly to the Content Jump directly to the Content

Angry at the Wrong People

Last week a former colleague from my first job out of college (I'll call him Bob) found me on Facebook. Within moments of accepting his friend request, we were leaving jokey notes on each others' pictures and status updates. It was so fun to reconnect with someone I had once shared so many laughs at work.

But then he noticed a picture of my husband standing next to one of those life-sized cut-outs of Sarah Palin and John McCain. Bob wrote on my wall: "Is your husband really standing next to Palin/McCain? If so, why?" So I sent back a jokey note explaining the picture. Apparently, I wasn't so amusing since Bob immediately sent me a message saying I had to tell him right then if my husband supported Republicans or if I, in fact, had ever voted Republican. He said in no uncertain terms that he could not be my friend if either of us had.

Still hoping he was kidding, I made light. The tone and content of his email meant business. He was dead serious. It was bad enough I was a Christian. He wanted nothing doing with someone who might share the "vile beliefs" of Christians and/or conservatives.

Here's the deal: My friend Bob is gay.

In particular, he's a gay man who hasn't encountered many friendly Christians or conservatives in his life. So now that he no longer saw me as his former funny friend from work, but instead as a Christian, possibly conservative, suburban mom, he apparently imagined me marching with a "God Hates Gays" placard shouting venom about where homosexuals will burn.

I can't say I blame him for his hurt and anger - I too shudder at the placards and taunts that have come from "Christians" toward the homosexual community. But the trouble was, Bob was angry at me personally for views he supposed I held, choices he imagined I made, and actions he assumed I took to "oppress" gay people, to keep them out of churches, the public square, and maybe even Heaven!

His anger was misguided. If he had taken the time to ask, to listen, to share, to question, if he had taken the time to know me and not the stereotype, he'd have heard a different story than the one he'd conjoured up. We probably would have continued to disagree on many areas, but not in the ways he thought.

I have to tell you: I'm surprised by how much this episode has saddened and hurt me. But it's opened my eyes, to a hurting person and probable community, and also to my own behavior, and the way I often I lash out - at the wrong people - when I'm hurt and angry and feel victimized or oppressed.

Certainly, we Christian women gifted in leadership have felt these emotions in our lives. But what a great reminder it is to not "shoot the messenger" as they say. To not let our anger and hurt get in the way of open dialogue and of making room for understanding and sharing. To not let differing views hinder friendships and working relationships. Even when it's hard.

Recently someone told me to remember the words of Ephesians 6:12 when we're dealing with people with whom we disagree: "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."

Bob and I are no longer Facebook friends. He un-friended me (which is no easy task on Facebook!). And it's actually okay. Especially after Bob called me a Nazi and made racial slurs against my husband, I realized that Bob wasn't the same person I remembered either. But it's got me praying more - that Bob finds peace and love in this world. That he sees Jesus in someone, somehow, and can accept the loving grace that he offers. And that all of us, when we feel kicked to the curb, don't lash out at the first person walking by.

October28, 2008 at 10:11 PM

Recent Posts

When Your Calling Is Challenged
As hardships come, you have 1 of 3 options.
What Is Calling?
Defining this “super-spiritual” word
Cultivate Your Calling in Each Stage of Life
Angie Ward discusses cultivating leadership amid ever-changing responsibilities.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
How to know whether to leave or stay in your ministry context.

Follow us


free newsletters: