The Woman Who Cried "CLIQUE!"

A woman once posted a criticism of our church on social media.  No one, she huffed, had reached out even to say ‘hello’ when she visited a service.  She publicly recommended avoiding Mountain View Chapel.

I contacted her, apologized for her bad experience, and asked how she managed to get through our army of greeters.  It turned out she had come in late, sat in the back row, and slipped out during the closing hymn – avoiding all possible contact with our people!  I encouraged her to visit us again, but she harumphed that she’d never attend such an unfriendly clique of a church.

I did not go any further trying to win her -- because she didn’t want to be won.
She wanted to be “rejected” so she could relate her sad tale of rejection to her friends, who would respond with righteous indignation against those awful self-righteous church people and who would then pour over her parched soul waves of pity and affirmation – which is what she really wanted and which she had a habit of getting by portraying herself as a victim, denied warmth and friendship, shut out of by cold-shouldered cliques, wherever she went.

Over the years I have found such manipulative behavior to be quite common -- so common, in fact, that whenever someone complains about a group being a clique, my initial suspicion is that the person making the claim is the problem.

True friendships are mutual.  Both sides give to the relationship because they delight in giving and are even more delighted when others happily receive what was offered.  Friends share in giving and receiving the benefits of mutual giving.

Some people, hurt by rejection (or feelings of rejection) in the past, have a hair-trigger sensitivity to rejection, feeling left out even when they haven’t been.  They feel rejected even in normal relationships because they have their antennae up looking for every little sign of rejection.  When they sense it, they seek pity by blaming their sensitive feelings on the ‘clique’ that supposedly shut them out.

Others want to belong somewhere – anywhere! -- so badly they try to get without giving and latch onto groups with whom they share no interests.  They end up a square peg in a round hole and feel wronged when they find themselves outside, not because of cruel people (as they claim), but because of the natural crux of friendship:  a lack of things shared.

Still others, desperate for affirmation and approval, manipulate to “get” from a group without trying to contribute anything to it.  The group, they feel, owes them acceptance.  Groups tire of such manipulation and the manipulator ends up being left out for failing to understand the mutual reciprocation in friendship.

Try to tell such a person that the group is not the problem, that they need to adjust their perceptions of things, and they will claim you too have rejected them by saying something hurtful.  Friends, they believe, don’t hurt friends.  But Proverbs 27.6 says otherwise.

            Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
            profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

So, if I tell you your behavior, your misreading of people and situations, your own taking without giving, prevents you from fitting into a group, and that I’m willing to help you learn to change so you can fit – am I your friend or your enemy?  
Have I rejected you – or accepted you?
Have I despised you – or loved you?




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