I’m the failure, I’m everyone’s fool. And I’m losing my cool in the end. I’m the loser, my numbers come up. I’ve been hung up on thoughts of revenge, revenge, revenge. – Jon Foreman, “Revenge”
I’ve become increasingly irritable lately. Maybe it’s the extraordinarily hot summer that we’ve had, which has inevitably led to sticky, sweaty people (including me), or the most awful driving conditions that I’ve ever experienced since I moved to NYC in 2003, or maybe I’ve simply run out of patience. This kind of irritability isn’t just apparent in the day to day but I’ve also noticed it creeping into some of my relationships. Irritability, when put under a microscope, reveals something much bigger and deeper than just a lack of patience. I’ve found that for me, it’s rooted in a self-serving, self-righteous mentality. And when I think about it like that, my eyes get wide and I want to run far, far away.
Recently I was having a conversation with a close friend and we were talking about friendship. A lot of the conversation revolved around the topic of quality time and how important that is for a relationship to thrive. Then she expressed that she finds herself initiating quality time more often than not with many of her friends and wondered if that means the other person doesn’t care enough to initiate. I told her it’s okay to wonder that and also that it’s okay to tell people in her life that she’d like them to initiate scheduling time together.
She then proceeded to tell me pointedly, “I’d like it if you would initiate some of our hangouts, Cate.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the people with whom I like to spend quality time. I have to confess that I’ve felt a similar sentiment with certain friends. It seems I am the one always pursuing the friendship and if I stopped, I wonder if I would ever see or know these people very well. I’ve found myself tempted to take revenge in some small way by not reaching out and not initiating. Why should I be the one always seeking this person out? In some way, it feels like a form of rejection when that person never initiates. And there is only so much rejection this heart can take.
I admit I’ve said my share of, “Let’s hang out soon!”, without the follow through. But in this instance, I’m talking specifically about those people who, time and time again, wait for me to reach out to them. Those people who I genuinely wonder if they feel the same way about me as I do about them; if I matter to them as much as they matter to me. It hurts. So I want to stop. I want to stop e-mailing and texting and scheduling our next time together.
I am afraid of what might happen if I do. I don’t trust them to come to me. And then I wonder if that is any kind of solid relationship at all.
Revenge – it feels justified and even satisfying. After all, I was wronged and therefore that person deserves it. Is that how life works? Is it really an eye-for-an-eye world? For a long time I subscribed to this theory of revenge but I usually ended up in a place of distance, disconnect and isolation. I found myself very alone. And then I came to know of a life-transforming idea called grace. Grace calls us to reach out, to pursue, to place ourselves in the way of rejection and vulnerability. I need grace as much as I need to give grace. And so this time, instead of taking revenge, I step into the vast, mysterious world of grace.