Friday, June 17, 2011

The Answer is Always Love

Last night my husband and I were watching the movie version of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. It was a very low budget, made-for-t.v. production but was faithful to the storyline of the book, so it made us old folks happy.  At one point toward the end of the film my 10 year old daughter giggled and said "It's funny how the answer is always 'love', ya know?".  Pause.  Yes, I do know.  But somehow I always manage to forget anyway.

Earlier in the evening I had gotten pretty irritated with someone I don't even know in person for saying something rude to me and my friends on my Facebook status.  How's that for a first-world problem?  Me, irritated with a barely-known person, for typing some little words into a box and pressing enter.  I was irritated that she chose to put her pet cause ahead of being kind, but in the meantime I didn't respond with much kindness either.  In fact, I didn't respond at all.  I deleted her comment and then clicked that mysterious little button that I have rarely touched: unfriend.

And I've been pondering it ever since.

Is there some better way I could have handled it?  Could I have said something that would make her think twice the next time she chooses to berate people she doesn't even know?  Should I have?  To be honest, my first instinct was to say something pretty rude back, incite a "discussion" and eventually get her to realize that she was wrong and a jerk and I, as usual, was totally right.  True story.  Special, isn't it?  The way pride works?  Fortunately, only a few words into my carelessly crafted comeback I came to my senses and availed myself of the backspace button.

So on the one hand, I could pat myself on the back for not responding in a similarly rude manner.  But Lord knows I've already done that.  For several hours in fact.  All evening, I strutted around the internet, with blood boiling and back being vigorously patted.  Until the fateful moment that the Holy Spirit inspired my daughter's simple but crucial observation: the answer is always Love.

Inasmuch as I can tell myself that she ought to be more loving and that he ought to be too, my only real responsibility is to be loving myself.  To show God's love, not to simply preach it.  To not just love the the causes and people who I look upon with fondness but also, or even moreso, to love those with whom I disagree.

Putting 'right' above 'love', putting 'funny' above 'love', putting 'useful' above 'love'- it's all wrong.  The answer is always Love.

Now I find myself in a quandary.  What to do about that 'friend'?  I've never actually met her.  She sent me a friend request only recently.  Despite my intentions to the contrary, I still feel that her word choice belies a certain character that I cannot support.  And I am kidding myself if I imagine she truly cares what I, as an individual, truly think.  But I know that she though what she was doing was "good" despite it being mean.  And I want to put love first.

What would you do?

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  1. Facebook is a funny thing. Especially when one has a blog. We end up aquiring a ton of new to us friends.

    Sometimes those friends are just "collecting" friends. They don't really pay attention to anything we post. They don't know what is near and dear to our heart. What our pet causes are. Heck even if we have pets.

    Before I pimp my pet causes on a FRIEND's page, I like to get to know them a bit. I know that on my page I can like, love, rant about whatever I want. Yet, I'm not the type to see a friend post on their facebook wall and shove my beliefs down their thoat. Or even past their mouth. Its rude.

    I kind of look at all the "make believe" friends in the same way I would if I saw them in real life. For example if someone was share a political belief on their page, I wouldn't tell them they were wrong. Just like I wouldn't do that in real life.

    Sometimes I think people see the internet as a way to shove their beliefs on others. Chances are the people in their real life don't care either. So shove them down an internet friend's throad.

  2. Well said. You are only human; it's only natural to act with haste and unfriend on a whim. But what sets you apart from the rest is that you recognize your behavior as something you might want to change for next time.

    I usually avoid conflict and would have done the same thing (unfriended), especially if it was someone I do not really know.

    I don;t think it's wrong to edit your lists every once in a while. It's admiral to be tolerant and 'loving' of people and opinions that are different than yours, but it's your page. Your blog. Your house.

    I doubt you would invite someone over again if they berated you, as you were eating, over what you were serving.

  3. I have had a similar experience on Facebook. (Unfortunately there is no "unfriend" button in real life. Or maybe it's a good thing, so that we have to actually WORK on our relationships.) How to respond with love in that situation? Well, maybe with a private message explaining why you are removing their negativity from your Facebook account. Maybe by giving her a second chance. Or maybe waiting a few days and deciding what feels right. I do know that love does NOT look like self-righteousness and love does NOT fuel the flames of a Facebook wall argument, so doing ALL of the above can be tricky.
    I think you handled it well Dwija. And for what it's worth, I would've done the same thing you did, then stewed about it all night.

  4. @Nina- "I doubt you would invite someone over again if they berated you, as you were eating, over what you were serving."

    Good point, Nina! I like that analogy.

    @ML- I absolutely stewed about it all night :) Interesting how something she probably didn't even think twice about has caused all this ruckus in my brain!

  5. You have my curiosity piqued! I think we are all tempted to jump down people's throats from time to time. And heck, if you have been following me lately you can see I have not been shy. But, you could always message the person and apologize for any hurt feelings, but not necessarily be friends again. Sometimes you can show love without having to be friends!

  6. dwija, i believe we all get angry at's the way we handle our anger that is key. you were angry (and maybe even justified in your anger), but you eventually realized that your anger got you nowhere, and were able to let that anger go. that's what it's all about! the only person you were really hurting was yourself! you could send her a note apologizing/forgiving her...and the rest is up to her. that way, you will be able to have peace...

  7. I think you handled it quite nicely! Honestly, nothing you could have said would have made it better or help her see a different point of view and so not saying anything and unfriending was a way for you to say it all, without saying anything.
    As far as this 'friend' I've had a rule I live by: If you don't feel comfortable being yourself around 'friends' then don't be around them. There is nothing wrong with not being 'friends'(in real life or on FB) with people. Always be kind, yes. But I don't have to be friends with them.

  8. Hmmm... this is a tough one. I tend to have issues with my pride, and that's putting it extremely mildly. I lurrrrrrve to be right. ALL the time. Putting Love first is quite the struggle for me. Even *remembering* that Love comes first is a struggle! Just wanted to thank you for reminding me.
    But, what to do, what to do....
    Honestly, I don't think you have to be FB friends with someone in order to love them. And, you don't have to explain your actions in order to show love; God sure doesn't explain, and He *is* Love! Certainly, you could still be "un-friends" (OK, that sounds like "undead"...) with this person, but try to send her a private message explaining why you did what you did and how her words impacted you. But, I guess from her POV, this could be preachy and unloving, too. Really, I think you handled it very well; by not saying anything rude and provoking her further.
    As I have said before, you are MUCH MUCH nicer than I will ever be! Thanks for being such a great example to me!

  9. I have considered that exact possibility, MK. If I send her a note to assuage MY guilt, is that actually being selfish because it migh embarass her? Or make her angry? Either way, I would be in the wrong again.

    Ugh. This life stuff is sure challenging!

  10. You can send her a note (via facebook message) of explanation and apology. You can send her the link to this blog post.

    My inference is she's a vegetarian, and she called you a name for serving meat. Yes? If she's that militant, she may do so again.

    You can love people and still have boundaries, in this case the boundary would be her not being your friend on facebook. Or you can refriend her and make sure you never ever speak of meat again...

    She can still read your blog, and perhaps she'll see herself here.

    This is a thoughtful and Truth filled post, but you are being entirely too hard on yourself in the "what to next" area. Let next happen.

  11. Well done for using "first world problem"

    And I've said this many many many times: Facebook is the devil.

    There is no reason to "friend" anyone on it. All the reasons people give for maintaining are shallow at best. (steps off soapbox, takes off Libertarian hat)

    Why did you not just laugh at her instead? Why did it touch you in such a way that set off your anger? She's a vegetarian?

    Then I say: "HEY LOOK EVERYBODY! There's a vegetarian here who has an agenda!"

    True story: Vegetarian walks in to the store today. She asks if we have "gelatine suitable for vegetarians?" We show her what we have, which turned out to be unacceptable because of the chemicals. No, what she was looking for was the gelatine made from sea animals.


  12. That is an excellent question, Mollie.

    I guess it made me angry because I knew what she was thinking. I was raised in her same environment, to believe that anyone who eats meat is a demon and going straight to hell (literally. those actual words). To have someone saying those things about me and my family, bringing that hate into the equation where it doesn't need to be, especially from a person that doesn't even know ME as a person, was....startling.

    And even sea animals are off limits in that culture. "No gelatin for you!" ;)

  13. I'm going to go against the grain here...My facebook page is for me. As yours is for you. Your private page. A personal space to express freely and openly with 'friends' and family. I find it to be a place of comfort and not anxiety. It is the one place I can control whom I allow in my life and remove the toxic people from. It's a privilege not a right.

    I don't think you were wrong or unloving. Protective was what came to my mind first. You didn't lash out in anger or attack back but instead deleted the comment, and well also the commenter. You did what any mama would...protect your family, yourself and your page. You don't have to justify it, apologize for it, or beat yourself up either.

    And I totally agree ArtsyNina "Well said. You are only human; it's only natural to act with haste and unfriend on a whim. But what sets you apart from the rest is that you recognize your behavior as something you might want to change for next time."

  14. Well, you asked...

    Facebook and other such forums for social interaction, blogs included can be coduits of evil. With the internet, we have every excuse to avoid interaction with people, strangers included, in real life, and only interact virtually. And often, what is missing from virtual interaction is love, because we never have to look anyone in the face. The person who posted on your page was not acting with love. They felt they could say whatever, because they don't have to look at your hurt face when you hear it. Likewise, unfriending someone without any type of explanation or search for clarification, while justifiable, may not be the most loving thing to do. The most loving thing, perhaps, would be to do EXACTLY what you would do in person. Which is what I *try* to do myself. So, what would you have done in person, if someone had said that to your face? Maybe that's the answer you are looking for? And maybe you could do that. (btw, I have unfriended people with no explanation or apology in the past, sometimes their actions do not deserve an apology or clarification, just as if I met someone spewing hate on the sidewalk at me, I would just walk away, unfriend, whatever you need to do...this might also be one of those times...)

    With love!

  15. Dwiij, I've got nothin' for ya on this one. I'm sure I would have deleted the comment too and then "unfriended" her. And then, when I went for my next run, I'd pretend that I stood up to her for being a bully, get so worked up, I'd run really fast, and then be over it.
    People are just rude. I like the Love approach :)

  16. I've been really bad about letting people in online forums get to me lately. I think it's cause I'm still living in a relatively new area and don't have a ton of friends, so I pass the time reading blogs and stuff. But then some uber-Catholic guy tells me I don't know the meaning of service because I think girls should be altar servers and I want to punch someone. Ugh. I am much more compassionate in real life than online. And I guess other people probably are too.

  17. Really? Meat eaters go to hell? Man, am I lucky! I hope that means that all vegetarians go to heaven regardless of actions, because then I am so in! Good luck, Dweej. I think you are better off leaving things be in this case. Extremists don't change their colors in 99% of the cases I have seen. And by 99, I of course mean 100%.

  18. That's what this particular segment seems to think, Jules. You are one of the chosen ones! Rejoice!

    Yeah, it does seem like an extremist situation, doesn't it?

    Hmmmmm. And you KNOW she hasn't given the whole thread a second thought!

    Things are starting to look a little more clear...

  19. This might be why I am a facebook snob. I don't expect everyone to share my opinions on everything, but I tend to surround myself with those who can respect it or discuss it. I used to stew and now I remove myself so I would have unfriended too. Right or wrong, I can't say.

  20. Dwija,

    It's funny, um... I mean AWFUL, how piercing and painful harsh, judging, damning words are even when coming from someone we don't know, isn't it?

    That timeless kid rhyme, "sticks and stones will break my bones, but names can never hurt me" is so NOT true!

    I think you did the right thing, yes, even the *loving* thing. As other posters said, if she behaved like that towards you in a face to face situation, you'd be likely to either walk away, or uninvite her from your home. She obviously doesn't belong in your home or in your life... or on your facebook page which is an extension of your home and your life. She has no intention to try to get to know you and understand you, but prefers to judge you for not fitting her paradigm.

    Sometimes to foster a loving environment in our hearts and homes, we need to separate ourselves from unloving influences. God does that too! He hides from those who harshly judge and hate Him. That's why such people don't experience Him in their lives! He "unfriends" them! I think we all have this experience, of feeling disconnected from God when we have hate in our hearts. He's got the "unfriending" business down! :P

    And yet, as soon as we turn back towards Him, He's there with open arms. As His sons and daughters, I think that we are meant to do the same. Love doesn't necessarily mean that we embrace haters, but that if those haters turn to love, we are ready to welcome them with open arms and no grudge. (No grudge is a really tough one for me! :o))

    Dwija, I think you are a beautiful inspiration. Be true to yourself and be strong. It's ok to protect yourself from negativity. Let the love in your heart grow and thrive in the company of those who reciprocate it.

    And isn't it awesome how God speaks through our children?

    With love... <3

  21. Don't give it another thought. You must have a million genuine, thoughtful, articulate, intelligent friends with whom you can debate status updates. You don't need her and she probably won't notice for a while. I have only unfriended one person--a good friend from college, a sorority sister--because she was so catty and terrible via facebook. I just said to myself, being friends with her stressed me out. It makes me anxious when she comments on my things. Why am I doing this to myself? Unfriend.

    And then God punished her and she's having twins. Haha!!

    (Just kidding about the God thing; I really did enjoy your take on the answer is always love. Just do what makes you happy)

  22. Leave it be and move on.


  23. I read this morning, Dweej, and had to really think about what I would do. After thinking on it all day, I came to this conclusion. I would have gotten my feelings hurt, my panties in a bunch, and I might have even said something to her. Then I would have probably deleted her comment and unfriended her. I guess I agree with ML on this one. I agree that the answer should always be love, but I don't think that people should be excused from being rude and hateful. It's hard to respond to rudeness and hatefulness with's very human to get frustrated and to not know where to turn or what to do.

    I don't think you unfriending her did any harm. You were protecting yourself and your friends, and I think that answer has some love in it personally. Self-righteousness is one of those dangerous things that I really do hate. I don't know how to respond to it with love. I really don't.

    I face this kind of situation on a daily basis. A person is my life is poisonous and constantly fueling my fire. I never know how to react to her, and unfortunately, I can't "unfriend" her. She is constantly and passive aggressively "putting me down," and I honestly think some days that I can't stand it anymore. Sometimes I snap at her...then I immediately regret it and beat myself up for it for days afterward.

  24. Oh, especially putting being right before love. I'm practically ALWAYS right, but I can't say that I practically always respond in love. Le sigh!

  25. I would have done the exact thing that you did and I would have been angry as all get out that someone dared to demonize me and my family and my friends based on my choice of food. Mostly, I'd feel that way because she touched a trigger that goes back to childhood and the way I was raised. She made an ignorant assumption about you and did so having no real idea who YOU are.

    I get the impression that you'd be running around in circles if you engaged further. Own that defriending and let that person fade into oblivion. It's just Facebook, friend.

  26. Someplace The Little Flower makes a comment about sometimes the most loving action is retreat (boy, I hate paraphrasing a Doctor of the Church but I can't look up the quote right now.)

    What she was saying is that when she saw another nun retreating or leaving a situation what she might really being seeing was a great act of love, given what else might've happened had the nun not retreated etc.

    By that criterion, you made the loving decision.

  27. Dweej hon, you did what you did and no one except you knows whether it was the right thing to do or not. It was YOUR Facebook page, you can damn well choose to delete a comment that offended you.

    The fact that it has bothered you so much with the comment deleting and unfriending? You are just a great big soft teddy bear.

    Just so you know? I would have done the same thing and not felt bad, and moved on. There are better things for you to spend time on :) xoxo

  28. Isn't it funny the way children have the simplest way of shedding light on adult problems without even knowing they are doing so? My children have produced many an "Aha!" moment in their short time in my life.

    As for the rude commenter, I would leave her unfriended. I don't know what she wrote, but who needs that? You did the right thing by choosing not to engage her in petty argument. The internet is filled with trolls.

    Also, funny you mention A Wrinkle In Time. I loved that book as a kid and I just saw on netflix that there is a Disney version of it out. Is that what you watched? Was it any good?

  29. It was through Netflix, Amber, so probably the same one! The special effects were not good, I'll be honest. But the acting was good and it stayed true to the story. A bit scary for little kids, but great if you've read it. So nostalgic! :)

    And to everyone, I so appreciate your input and considerate comments. I think I will leave things as they are. If she contacts me, I will try to be kind but still share information. I do get the feeling she doesn't really care to know the "why" of any of it, nor does she notice that we are no longer 'friends'. To send her a message would probably start more trouble rather than smoothing over the trouble and that is not a step in the direction of peace.

    I'm feeling better about my decision as it is exactly what I would have done in real life.

    Happy weekend!

    Stay tuned for your regularly scheduled silly programming ;)

  30. Pray for patience and right judgement. Pray for the "unfriend" as your sister in Christ. Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know until you get a chance to know them from other people's FB pages.

    Don't be afraid to unfriend someone on FB if they are insulting or rude - I have done it. When I did so, I did it quietly and without fanfare. But, before FB, I replied to rude or insulting emails immediately, in anger, and then regretted my angry reply, which could not be taken back. I have since learned to write things in Word and then think about it before I cut and paste.

    Thus is the wisdom I have gleaned from 55 years of putting my foot in my mouth!


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