People are notorious for having conflicts with other people. We drive in conflict- tailing people, cutting them off and worse (seriously, how often do car horns function as instruments of warning?) We think in conflict- judging or disagreeing with others for what they wear, how they spend money, who they vote for, why they are always late to things or why they care so stinkin' much about punctuality.
I think as I grew up it eventually dawned on me, "Wait a minute...if I feel this way about other people, then I bet...(waiiiit for it) GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY!!...they must think this way about me too!"
Now I am by nature a people-pleaser, who avoids ALL conflict, and doesn't want to be the source of any pain, offense, or slight annoyance. Thus my personality, combined with my realization that, yes, I TOO might be bothering people, lead me to a sort of relational defense strategy. Here's how it works: I apologize- preemptively, really. If I sense that someone may be mad about something, now or in the near future, I figure the quickest possible "sorry" will nip the conflict in the bud. Problem is, eventually I had to start saying sorry not only for things I actually did, but then for anything that might possibly be CONSTRUED as my fault. This, as you may guess, lead me to say sorry nearly constantly, a habit which I am honestly still trying to break. Still. I'm so sorry. My paranoia also caused me to always be searching for the things people might not like about me- which is not healthy for many people. OK, took a quick poll, it's not healthy for anyone.
But another more sinister thing that grew in me was resentment- I tried so unbelievably hard to make everyone happy that when someone wasn't happy with me, I actually got mad at them. And further, I would get mad that other people didn't bend over backwards to be super sweet to me the way I was for them. I can't think of a specific example, but I know for a fact that in the past I would apologize to someone for something that I KNEW was not my fault, and then they would say something super awful like, "It's OK." Oh, I'd be fuming. How dare you accept my lying, peace-making apology that was supposed to keep anyone from getting mad?? No no, friend, you were supposed to say, "Geez, it wasn't your fault- stop apologizing." (True story...now you know how messed up my mind is.)
It is a serious stumbling block in relationships too, because it goes beyond just saying the right things. Maybe this is just me and maybe it isn't, but at some point I think I found it hard to trust that anyone honestly liked me. Because here I was getting frustrated with other people and never telling them, and even though I was trying not to make others frustrated what if they still were? How can you build solid friendships if you always second guess people's motives- or compliments- or invitations to do things?
Truth be told, I have come to truly value when people get frustrated with me- to my face that is. It's like that (brace yourself for an awesomely-cheesy Christian music reference) Superchic[k] "Super Trouper" song that says, "And I'm sorry that I'm getting on your case But true friends, they stab you in the face
". (I totally found their website, HA!
!) Because what I really crave is truth, not appearances. And what I'd really rather do is live in the reality that I WILL let people down, but those that really love me will stick around anyway.
So if I have ever confronted you about anything- consider yourself probably one of the guinea pigs in my new relational strategy. I'll probably revert to my old ways now and again, and I know that I will still fail- that I will deserve reprimanding and challenging and that I will have to truly apologize on many occasions. But I am praying that I will be unapologetically who I am, as I seek to follow God...and that God would let me have at least a couple friends who will put up with me anyway.