First of all, your Bible quote du jour.
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Since coming out of hospital a month or so ago, I had bitten the bullet and asked Billy to give me some space. In other words, please stay away from me. Like in the Jewish momma joke:
- Don’t phone
- Don’t visit
- Don’t talk to me
- Don’t Whatsapp me
- Don’t email me
- Don’t SMS
I had become fed-up of his:
- Unsolicited hospital visit
- Late-night starting arguments in his self-created Whatsapp groups
- Interfering in everything from the colour of the toilet paper in the church toilets to how German funerals should be conducted
- Etc etc etc
- Ad nauseum
Last Sunday Billy asked to meet up with me for a coffee “to bury the hatchet” (sic). I acquiesced. I had a feeling the meet-up would be a bit pointless but we can but hope and pray, I guess. And besides, I thought this could be my chance to tell him to his face what others had been saying behind his back.
We meet at the appointed hour, at the appointed place, a public place with plenty of people around. I had prepared bullet points notes to refer to in case needed.
First ten minutes: stilted conversation. My mind is thinking on every so slightly weightier matters than Billy’s new flat being near the big shopping arcade. I am thinking of D, dying of pancreatic cancer.
After 40 minutes, 60 minutes, Billy is still talking about his new flat, like a ten-year-old telling parents what he had done at school today. I am starting to day-dream. The washing-up, the laundry, etc.
Finally – after an hour Billy remembers.
Oh yes, you said you wanted to talk to me about a few things to do with why you wanted space from me.
I tell him in a matter-of-fact way, very calmly without raising my voice (for I do not wish to encourage the stereotype of the fiery redhead) that I have serious concerns about his anger management. I then give him a few examples of when he has exploded with rage. He says he accepts he has anger management issues. Good. That’s a start. But then at that incident and at this incident, if X hadn’t done this, he wouldn’t have had to scream and shout at them. Someone else’s fault. No personal responsibility. Worrying.
I then ask calmly, like I was on my interrogator’s course again, is it possible that the reason why people have lost their temper with you is that you have provoked them time after time until they can take no more?
By now Billy has started cooking. He has started hyperventilating, scowling at me, shouting over me:
No! You listen to me!
All of a sudden, Billy grabs his coat and his daysack and storms out.
Oh, well, Billy has thus proved he has anger management issues. Next time he sees me, he will probably move to the next step in his cycle of anger management, namely, look at me, puppy eyes and try to latch onto me and others heading off to Sunday fellowship lunch. He’ll be wasting his time, I’m afraid. High hedges make good neighbours.
Wer schreit, hat unrecht.
Have an anger-free day, won’t you!