That’s just ugly.

A very good friend of mine has been on the receiving end of some butt-ugly treatment lately.
It’s the second time in the last 18 months that I have been aware of people I know wilfully acting to assassinate someone’s character. Those people should hang their heads in shame. They absolutely know better. They are intelligent, professional people with families of their own.
My friend is not perfect. I don’t see how that justifies anything. She is fully aware of her flaws, and nobody is perfect, least of all me. There is no excuse for the way she has been treated.

The following are ugly and ungodly behaviours which amount to verbal bullying and vilification:

1. Sharing someone else’s story or personal information when one has no business doing so.
2. Telling a story about someone when one has only heard half of it.
3. Going behind someone’s back and telling falsehoods or half-truths about people to those who are their friends.
4. Attempting to ingratiate oneself by putting someone else down.
5. Veiling these behaviours behind “I thought you should know” or “We need to pray for ******” or “I am so concerned, I had to share it with someone”.
6. Taking pleasure in gossip or in shaming someone.

Do not ever ask me to listen to or excuse these things.
These are not things friends do.
These are not things nice people do.

Sadly, they are things that some people who claim to be Christians do.
What ever happened to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Love your neighbour as yourself”?

High dudgeon at low treatment of a good friend.

Loyalty has always been important to me; it’s a quality for which I am known.  My friends are enormously important to me.  I am protective of them, keen to encourage them and sure to discuss things calmly before problems elevate to “barrier” status.

That’s why it really frustrates and angers me when I see a friend suffering because someone they have helped and nurtured fails to return any loyalty to them. It’s even worse when another friendship suffers because of the words and actions of that disloyal person.

A friend who I admire immensely is going through that at the moment. She has faced challenges with integrity, and gone through significant personal grief, yet she is still a nurturer, a giver, a carer… a generous soul. When people are in trouble, she helps them.  She thinks about the needs of others and does all she can to meet them. Often, she does this at the expense of her own health and welfare, and many don’t realise how much she invests in others.

Enter a young person who is unhappy in their workplace, feeling as though there is no option and longing for something to change.  My friend took this young adult under her wing, gave them a new job and a new lease on life. Said young adult has “returned the favour” by white-anting her, undermining her both professionally and personally, and causing her more grief than they will ever realise. Relationships have suffered, friendships are strained, workplace tensions are elevated, and everyone involved is suffering… except for the young person who has moved on to new opportunities.

My message is this: when someone tells you “something someone said”, measure what they are saying against what you know of that other person.
Is it consistent with what you know of them? Is it borne out by what you’ve seen them do and how you’ve seen them live?  Is what they are accused of consistent with how they’ve treated you?  If not, then it’s probably not true at all.

If what you have heard bothers you, please just go to the person concerned and ask them what’s going on. Talk with them. Listen to what they have to say.  Use it as an opportunity to communicate, rather than to bottle things up and let it escalate to a point where silence becomes a habit and both of you are left wondering what happened to your friendship.

I know nobody is perfect. We all get things wrong sometimes. We all fail, we all make mistakes, and we all do things without realising that it’s going to hurt someone else.
However, deliberate misrepresentation of those things is cruel and heartless.  It’s impossible for me to understand what drives someone to do that. Is it a “divide and conquer” mentality, that lives in hope of breaking a friendship so that both parties will dislike each other and develop stronger friendships with the person in the middle? Is it jealousy of a strong relationship that someone desires for themselves but doesn’t know how to achieve that?  Does it make someone feel important? Is it a power trip?  I just don’t get it.

Gossip, half-truths and lies are toxic. They kill friendships, they poison happiness, and they leave pain and heartache in their wake. Why anyone chooses that as a lifestyle is beyond me.

I will not allow those things into my life, my friendships, or my relationships.

I will not allow someone who engages in those things to shape my view or understanding of events and people in my life.

I will remain loyal to those who are victims of this kind of behaviour and show no loyalty whatsoever to those who are responsible.

I don’t care if my writing this makes someone uncomfortable. If someone’s conscience is pricked, good!

If someone thinks this is about them… it’s probably not, but perhaps that’s an indication that they need to take a long, hard look at themselves and how they treat their friends.  It’s never too late, and it’s certainly not impossible, to say “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”

If you are someone who people this way, don’t be surprised if I am very cautious about being friends with you. I’ll be pleasant, polite and friendly, but we won’t be friends. I won’t tell you things, and I sure as hell won’t let you tell me things about other people.

My friends matter to me far more than things, events, or experiences.  I will guard my close friendships with more tenacity and stubborn determination than most people have ever seen in me – and that’s saying something.

People have tried and failed to get between me and my besties before, and discovered that it’s an absolute deal-breaker with no chance of a comeback.

That’s what integrity in friendship is.