Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thanks Sweetie - den Boer

The physically challenged Charis told me matter-of-factly that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Her mom had told her. Her mom was right of course. Sweetie talk worked for Charis. She had lots of friends and a comfortable well-furnished apartment.

There wasn’t anything God and a little niceness couldn’t accomplish.

“It’s who I am. I’m nice. Why not, it’s better than being a bitch, wouldn’t you agreed?”

I agreed.

Still...I hated being called sweetie or hon or any sugar-coated name. I let this bother me for several months.

I didn’t mind picking up Charis for church. I didn’t mind pouring the hot water into the cup, (be a sweetie) getting the milk out of the fridge, (thanks sweetie) holding the elevator, parking close to the curb so she could step from her walker into the van (thanks hon).

But, with each confectionary name, the irritation grew inside me. I would silently push down my ugliness.

One Sunday morning, I decided I had to say something. We couldn’t go on like this. I wanted to like Charis.

At our destination, “Charis,” I said as I opened the van door and placed her walker where she could reach it. “This is more about me than you. Could you stop calling me sweetie? I hate it. It stirs up something inside me, something ugly.”

She was shocked. More shocked than I anticipated. Any shock was more than I anticipated, as I hadn’t anticipated shock at all. I had naively believed that she would entirely understand my dilemma.

Now we were on opposite sides of an abyss. She didn’t think I should ask her to change who she was. I didn’t think that was what I was doing.

We talked a circle.

“Maybe God is using me to change you,” she concluded.

“I’m sure He is,” I agreed.

She hasn't called me sweetie since and I don’t feel like a fly anymore.

Marian den Boer is the author of Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress.


Peter Black said...

Risking yet another sugar attack, Marian, this "candi[e]d" self-revealing story evokes feelings of discomfort from past situations that chafed me.
Even though details are now vague the inner frustration left its mark.
You stood to lose something by speaking to Charis about your feelings, but perhaps you both learned something. Has your voicing your feelings to her proven to be a win-win for you both? Transformative? Or do you regret having spoken up?

Marian said...

Other than me not feeling like a fly anymore, it's too early to tell if our relationship has transformed. This just happened on Sunday. I'll let you know in a week or so.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Marian,
And so, the saga continues. One (i.e. "I") mustn't fall into voyeurism on this rather private matter; and yet it will be interesting to see how it works out. May it be for good and for the honour of our Lord (and also fulfil Rom. 8:28).

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