Tag Archives: enemies

Gossip or Gospel

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…but no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:8

I have an acquaintance by the name of Tasha.  In the past year I’ve lessened my contact with her.  Tasha is a lover of gossip and she spreads it around like peanut butter.  She also happens to know Eliza and her family very well because they grew up in the same neighborhood for 15 years.

Not only does she know Eliza, she also knows my husband because he attended the same junior high school as Tasha (and Eliza).  Tasha, my husband, and I attended the same high school.  Therefore we know many of the same people.

A few years ago I actually looked forward to the juicy tidbits of information because it validated my opinion that she was a crazy, hateful, spiteful person.  I relished hearing “dirty” details about her.  Tasha was the resident expert on all things Eliza.  And sure enough what ever Tasha reported usually turned out to be dead on–give or take a few embellishments!  

But now I am relunctant to listen to stories about Eliza.   It takes away from my character and keeps me stuck in the past.    Gossip is a real trouble spot for me.  Even the listening part is not as harmless as it appears.  It’s almost as if Tasha wants me to keep the bitter feud with Eliza going.

When the kids came to live with us, Tasha was apalled at my peacable attitude about the situation.  She could not fathom why I would help raise her children after the many acts of terrorism Eliza had performed.  She was disgusted at the notion that I was willing to interact with her at all.  Of course, she was not shy about telling me this!

Her attitude was so poisonous that I stopped talking to her for six months.  I really could not deal with the negative vibes that were spewing from her.  This past April Tasha called me.  Not recognizing the number on the caller ID, I answered the call.  Immediatedly she wanted to know why I had stopped talking to her.

And because she does have a few endearing characteristics, I gave in and talked to her for a spell.  I was disappointed.  Even though I told her why I stopped accepting her calls, she was on the same wavelength as before.  She couldn’t wait to tell me that Eliza’s nephew’s mom and former best friend now dates (of all people) her brother.  Tasha was determined to sully my mind with her rancid talk about Eliza and others.  Listening to her made me realize that I was too old to be engaging in such minutia.  Plus, my grandmother always said a dog that brings a bone will carry a bone!

Gossiping is a dangerous game.  Why not spread gospel instead?  Sometimes gossip is rooted in truth, but I have come to find that usually it is a matter of opinion.  I was reminded of the old adage Just because someone said it doesn’t make it so.  Therefore, the next time you are faced with listening to someone gossip, just ask yourself, is it the gossiper’s truth or the gospel truth?

Frienemy

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Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

                                                 ~Abraham Lincoln

My goal regarding Eliza has changed.  I no longer want to pursue a friendship with her.  I just don’t think it can happen.  Simply put, I don’t believe that she is capable of maintaining a friendship.  There is too much mistrust, bitterness, paranoia, anger, and jealousy on her end.  

 

I thought it would be a noble thing to do.  But if I am honest with myself, she is not the kind of friend I would want to have.  It is hard to call a one-sided relationship a friendship; although she has made spradic attempts to reach out to me. 

  

In my mind I wanted to achieve the impossible—becoming friends with the enemy.  I was tired of the animosity.  I felt like God had provided me with this opportunity to heal some old wounds.  I wanted to partner with Eliza to help her stay connected with the boys. 

 

And it’s not that I “need” a friend because I have been blessed with enough. It is true that we have had a tumultuous past; but I still didn’t find it strange that I would want to befriend her.  Jesus still remained “friends” with Judas even though he betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.  Nor did he turn his back on Simon Peter who disowned him three times before the cock crowed.  Now that’s what I call pure love and graciousness!

 

I have accepted that we are never likely to be friends with a little sadness.  It would have been cool for her and me to do things together with the kids once she is released.  I was looking forward to having an open, relaxed line of communication.

 

However, I still am willing to remain cordial to her.  I refuse to let my goodness sour because she desires something different than what I had in mind.  I still have hope for other mother and stepmothers who both are willing to do the work involved in interacting in a healthy manner.

 

I continue to escort Ethan for visits.  I am content to provide snacks and sit back and allow them their time together.  If she writes inquiring about the children; I respond in a timely manner.  However, I no longer “entertain” her by letting her draw me in for arguments.  I answer the questions she asks and refrain from responding to any commentary, accusations, or wording meant to trigger a response from me.

 

I have also stopped sending “encouragement” to her.  From time to time I would send her books, cards, articles, and other things of inspiration.  I have visited her attorney to obtain documents, checked on her niece who was in foster care, and coordinated activities so that Ethan and Evan could spend time with their other brother.  I stopped doing most of this in the last three months when I noticed that despite my friendly gestures, she continued to bicker with me.  I had to set up boundaries with her for my own contentment and sanity in this trying situation.  Now I only deal with her on a need to basis.  I no longer try to save her from herself if that makes sense.  In essence I’ve removed myself from the picture as much as I can.  I’ve started to focus more on building solid relationships with the kids instead of her.  I realized that having them in our homes is a gift.  She had taken the boys from our lives for years, but God gave them back.

 

Rhonda has commented that deep down Eliza really probably does want to be friends with me—she just feels that Eliza doesn’t know how.  She is very good at pushing people away and projecting her fears and insecurities onto them because she refuses to trust anyone.  Eliza always feels that others are out to get her.  It is as if she expects everyone to hurt her.  I think this stems from being an incest survivor. 

 

At a visit not to long ago, she introduced me to a fellow inmate as “Ethan’s stepmom and my friend.”  I was a little surprised by this term of endearment but took it with a grain of salt.  I know that her actions do not support her words.  I felt sorry for her and knew that it was an attempt to manipulate my emotions.  I think she knows that I have grown tired of her mind games. 

 

I have been on both sides of the fence with her—her enemy and her “friend.”  Of course you know what side I’d prefer to be on.  I still pray that God is able to use me in whatever way he sees fit in this situation.  I know it has only been with Him that we have managed to make the progress that we have.  I still believe that anything is possible.

Her Footstool

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My Footstool

My Footstool

I am only five feet tall and therefore I often need the assistance of a footstool to reach things in high places.  I use it almost daily in the kitchen, often in the garage, and in our bedroom to reach my shoes when my husband is not available.  My simple, gray Rubbermaid footstool really comes in handy.

As I was standing on the stool this morning I recalled a nasty message that Eliza had left on the voicemail several years ago.  The message was long and incoherent. She quoted numerous Bible scriptures in a rambling diatribe admonishing my evilness.  She was upset that I had inquired about Evan’s wellbeing after he had been grazed by a car.  I had learned this information from a former acquaintance of hers.  After sharing this news with my husband,  he tried calling Eliza, however, her number had been changed!  Therefore we decided to verify the information with social worker.  I made the call, which in turn made Eliza furious because I was “meddling.” 

I am assuming that she feared that this would get her into further trouble with CPS since she had not informed them of this incident.  I’m really not sure why she thought this because the court had already closed the case.  The social worker was simply monitoring her on an informal basis as she finished her report.  Besides by then she had won the caseworker over.  But she claimed that I could have called her if I really wanted to know.  Yeah right.  I guess she forgot the fact that she had changed her number and didn’t share it with us.

I remember that she quoted Matthew 22:44, heavily emphasizing the words “enemy” and “footstool.”   She also rebuked me in the name of Jesus, “because we fight not against flesh and blood, but principalities…”she then proceeded to plead the blood of Jesus on my behalf–how kind of her.

I was rather puzzled after listening to the message.  Honestly it sounded so fanatical and bizarre that I didn’t know what to think.  Humorously I wondered what my life as her footstool would be like.   Back then I thought to myself that it would be a beautiful day in Hades before I ever stooped low enough for her to place her dirty hooves on my person.  It was a thought that I didn’t find too appealing. 

Flash forward to 2008.  Now I understand that sometimes we need to be footstools to others.  It is how we cultivate a servant’s heart.  Maybe in leaving that message years ago she knew something that I didn’t.  In a sense I am a footstool to her while she is in prison.  I don’t see it as her “stepping” on me in a negative manner, but I see myself as giving her a little assistance just as my stool does for me.  We can all benefit from support now and then.  If I didn’t have my stool, I would be forced to climb the counters to get what I needed.  Likewise, if she didn’t have me, I know she would be climbing the walls.