When Friendship is Difficult

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners


Dear Chuck
I am somewhat of a newcomer in a church where I met a woman who is 20 years my senior. She has some very harsh medical, time-consuming problems to deal with in her life, which has caused her to become disabled to work. On the other hand, I work some very long and strenuous hours. Sometimes she is unable to drive. Also, her husband left her for another woman. I did not know her before coming into the church.

After going there awhile with consistency, some of the members almost begged me to become her friend -- "sharing" that she NEEDED friends! While becoming acquainted with this woman, I learned firsthand why she is without friends. It was clearly evident that some of the church members only knew the side of her that they saw at church, the sweet, little old lady.

I have to pray before going around her or even calling her on the phone. She is a controlling, selfish, manipulative, harsh, hypocritical, Bible-quoting, jealous, know-it-all. She is verbally abusive to me also. Three months ago, it had gotten to the point that I told her I could no longer take any more of her abuse. She told me that she didn't know what I was talking about. Reluctantly, I reminded her of some of her abuse toward me, but she did just as I had expected. She lied by saying that she didn't remember any of those incidents. Then she told me that IF she had said and done those things, she was sorry and that she wished me the best in the future and was going to pray for me.

The next thing I knew, the pastor and some of the church members were calling me asking whether or not I had talked with her "lately," and asking me to call her. These were people that had never called me before. I didn't mention to any of them what I had experienced from this woman, because I didn't want to be accused of "sowing discord among the brethren." So I called her, and little-by- little she's trying to get back to where she was before. She calls me to pick her up for church and once I do, she wants to go other places and at other times. How can I finally rid this woman from my personal life? I like the church, with the exception of dealing with her.

Chuck's Response
Thanks for the note concerning the older woman whom you are trying to serve. You must be a "pleaser" like I am. That means it's hard for you to have someone think bad of you. You are being blackmailed, plain and simple. This might sound impractical, but I would change churches if I were you. If the pastor and other members are going to put guilt trips on you...who needs that? Are you so tied into the church you could not find another? I think you need a fresh start. For sure, you owe this lady nothing. You have already gone the second and third and fourth mile. Give her to God and dust your sandals. Those are my thoughts. Be sure to let me know if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder



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Contact Chuck: chuck@chucksnyder.org
Updated 05/24/2005