Sunday, June 21, 2015

On hurtful comments and expecting respect.

I learned something recently: You want a very quick way of getting over a crush on someone you know you can't have? Have them make jokes abut something they know is a very important and sensitive topic for you.

Since the day I became a Christian, I have taken the stance that I will respect whatever my friends' beliefs are, and all I ask is that they respect mine. That was largely because a) the Vespers treated me that way as they supported me and we were friends in the 14 months between meeting each other and me getting baptized in Nashville, b) I knew what it felt like to have Christianity shoved at you and I didn't want to become the very person I despised growing up, and c) my two best friends at the time were Matt and Ryann, and Matt was a lifelong atheist and Ryann was, at best, agnostic, I believe. The people in my life and my relationships with them have always been my number one priority, and I never wanted to jeopardize or lose them because of differing opinions or beliefs.

To me, true friendships involve a lot of respect on both parts, and if one person calmly and kindly asks a friend to please not make jokes about something to them, if that friend really cares as much as they say they do, then it's not an outrageous request and it would be kind and polite to do that. There's a difference between stating your opinion and making jokes knowing that it will hurt or offend a friend. I've always known Matt is an atheist, and Matt knew within a day of me getting back from Nashville that I had gotten baptized there and what it meant. Really, I can only think of one time in the 3+ years since then that I have gotten frustrated at him because I found something that he said about Christianity offensive. But the difference between then and now was that he wasn't saying it directly to me, he said it on Facebook, so we quickly worked it out and I got over it.

The person that hurt and offended me recently made his comments directly to me, with no one else around. And when I reiterated the fact that he knew from the beginning that I am a Christian and calmly and politely asked him not to make those kinds of comments/jokes towards me, he responded "I can't make that promise." I think that was more hurtful than the comments he'd made about God and my religion, because it felt like he was saying he doesn't care about my feelings. And if you don't care that your words have consequences, I'm not okay with that, either, especially when you're someone who says you love me. How can a person say they love someone but not care if they hurt their feelings about something that is that the very core of who they are?

Like I said, to me, there is a difference between stating your opinion and making jokes that hurt someone. Matt and I have had discussions about religion many times that didn't make me upset. Holly doesn't believe in God, and when I told her what had happened, even she said, "You don't mess with someone's religion." I wasn't trying to make him a Christian, or telling him not to be himself, or deny his right to free speech, I ASKED him not to make jokes directly to me. And I don't think that was an unfair thing for me to say, considering that up until that time, he had seemed understanding of our different beliefs. I've listened to what he had to say about his beliefs and never said a mean comment about them even though I don't understand or agree with them at all, and all I did was ask for the same courtesy.

But he didn't seem to care. And honestly, that leaves me rethinking our entire friendship and what I thought I knew about him. Someone else I spoke to about it who actually thought it was unfair for me to ask him not to say certain stuff to me said that maybe this just meant we shouldn't hang out anymore. Which maybe that is the solution. He's been a great friend to me in many ways, I don't deny that, but hanging out with someone who shows little regard for your feelings is pretty toxic for anyone. I know I'm sensitive, but I spent a long time letting people treating me however they wanted to, and I've finally learned to expect respect from people in my life.

The fact that I got over my crush on him is just gravy.

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