Today, I planned to write about our band’s most recent gig. One week ago last Thursday night, we performed at a café. It was our first gig since January, which is to say, it was our second gig ever. We weren’t the only musicians on stage that night. We were one of five bands or individuals on stage and we performed four songs. I was the lead singer on three of those four songs, and I sang backup for the fourth. The last song I sang was even in Russian, people! One hundred percent, not an English word in there anywhere.
All of our music was well received by the audience of about fifty or sixty people (beware my sketchy estimation skills) and, although I was a little nervous at the start, I sank into the experience and had a good time. We’ve been practicing for all these months without a performance in sight, so we’ve mostly been doing it for the pleasure of the music. But it felt really good to share that pleasure with an appreciative audience.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to talk about our gig today because there’s something more pressing on my mind. I had a pretty clear and specific opportunity last week to mind my own business or to do what was right. These opportunities don’t arise often, since I just sort of generally go about my day. So I figured I needed to talk about this.
A few days ago at work, I had to speak up on behalf of someone simply because it was the right thing to do. I could have decided to mind my business and stay out of the situation completely but that would have been wrong and I would be writing this post from a place of regret instead of from a place of peace with my decision.
This all comes back to two of the The Inconsiderate Ones. Guys, I was trying to love them, I really was. But they became so distasteful to me that the best I’ve been able to do is project cordiality most of the time. I admit that I totally ignore them sometimes, particularly when I’m extra busy or my fuse is already short. Before I gave up trying to love them and settled for tolerating them instead, I would sometimes feel like Jesus was convicting me about loving people, these in particular. At those times, I would plead with Him to help me to love them but, unfortunately, I must report that I never made it to that level with them. I suppose, for someone who historically cannot abide being physically in the presence of people who I can’t stand, this is progress.
Through it all, I kept my mouth shut and my feelings to myself. I minded my business like a champ because there was never any danger of them affecting my feelings about my job or my place of work. It’s very un-Christlike of me to think it much less say it but in all honesty, they don’t matter to me enough that their presence would affect how I feel about anything, really. Mostly, I just observe their behaviour from a distance and add my new observations to the mental information store I already have on them. Full disclosure, there’s barely anything positive in there. Maya Angelou wasn’t wrong when she said that you should believe people when they show you who they are; I learned that the long, hard way. So the lack of much on the positive side for these two people wasn’t exactly down to me. Anyone with a little wisdom, some life experience and two eyes in their head should be able to see through them like glass.
Still, I admit with some contrition that I spectacularly failed the love test that God presented me through them. He gave me the perfect opportunity to grow in love towards people who I find unloveable, and I failed on an Olympic level. I know the test will come around again because God doesn’t move us on to new victories until we’ve conquered old failures.
In any case, I went about minding my business as it relates to these two. Then last week rolled around and I heard that these two Inconsiderate Ones plan to leave this city and this job earlier than planned. I was happy, to some degree, to know that there was a definite time limit on their presence. But, again, they don’t matter to me beyond representing a failed love test, so I wasn’t overjoyed or anything. I’m more looking forward to the end of the school term so I can get a break from what I’ve been wryly calling Crazy Mondays.
By the next day, I heard that they had decided to leave even earlier, by a whole month. This will affect me because it means some of us will have to take on extra hours in order to cover their classes. When told about this latest development, I assured the appropriate person that I was willing to pay that price, even as busy as I already am. This is because over the previous days, I had been learning about the discomfort and misery these people have been bringing to others, who have been remaining silent and also minding their own business.
By that time, I had shared my feelings and observations about these two people with three trusted colleagues because events had transpired to bring about that type of disclosure. At the time, I did that sharing because it felt like the words were going to choke me if I didn’t get them out but it turns out that it was necessary for me to open up to these three colleagues so that when the time came, I would be called upon to do what was right.
Because around came last Wednesday, and that’s when I had to speak up. Had I not shared my feelings with my three colleagues, no-one would have known that I had valuable observations about these people, which could make a difference to an important decision. These two Inconsiderate Ones had managed to twist around their experiences so that their early leaving was being blamed on one person, which was totally untrue and unfair. This person’s job and reputation were now at stake because of these two toxic people.
This victim of their toxicity – who providentially happened to be one of the colleagues with whom I had shared my feelings just days before – told me what was happening and asked if I would mind sharing my own impartial observations and experiences with the appropriate person. I unhesitatingly said that I would. This wasn’t because I was looking for an opportunity to dish about these people; I would be perfectly happy to never discuss them again in my lifetime. Also, this situation was absolutely none of my business and I had every right to stay out of it. After all, they weren’t affecting my life, my job performance or my happiness.
But I have been in a situation before where others knew what was happening around me and saw things that I wasn’t seeing but decided to mind their own business and leave me to find out these things on my own. In other words, I’ve been in a place of no-one – save one single, solitary person – having my back by doing what was right. All the other people who professed to have my best interest at heart minded their own business and watched me almost run headlong off a cliff. But for the grace of God, I would have plunged to eternal misery.
So I decided to speak up because when I’m presented with an opportunity to do the right thing, the right thing to do is to take that opportunity, not stay out of it. Someone’s job and reputation were unfairly on the line and if my taking five minutes to speak up could see about helping to rectify that, then it was the right thing to do.
I tracked down the appropriate person and let them know my own observations about these two people. Since my life ground to a screeching halt four years ago and underwent a dramatic change, I’ve tried to keep fakeness out of my life and out of my presence. To that end, I’ve tried to ensure that I have a reputation for truth, honesty and integrity. It was against this background that I approached the conversation. I had no evidence to support what I was saying – because why would I have evidence? – but it was the God’s honest truth and I trusted Him to ensure that it was heard. I had the conversation and put it behind me for the rest of the very long and busy day that I had.
It wasn’t until the next morning as I was getting ready to go about my day that I really ruminated on the whole situation, hence this writing. Other than knowing what their actions have told me about them, I really don’t know these people, so I have no idea why they’re so toxic. I also know that I failed in how I represented Christ’s love to them, which is to say, not at all. But even as I failed the love test, I know that I did the right thing in speaking up on behalf of one who could only go so far in defending herself.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are unfortunate and defenseless. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the afflicted and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9 (AMP)
I’m not saying that I administered justice or that I judged righteously, but doing what was right trumped minding my business and I can’t be sad about that.