This wasn't part of Sun Tzu's play book
With all the discussion lately of "psychologically expensive friends," I realized last night that I have fallen off of a friend's Christmas card list. This person had been a friend to the family for decades and after my parents died, was a friend to me also. That was until a year or so ago when things suddenly changed and I was no longer on her daily call list. I haven't heard from her in about a year and now I didn't even get a Christmas card.
I know I should initiate contact with her since she could be ailing, but I do know that something "happened" that dramatically changed the dynamics of our friendship awhile back. At that time, I addressed the topic and told her if there was something I had done, I was very sorry. Instead of telling me what was wrong, or if I had indeed done something, she merely said she couldn't remember what it was and that we would just move on.
A year of silence isn't exactly my definition of moving on.
This friend, and those like her, are psychologically expensive in a variety of ways. To disagree with them is, at a minimum, very awkward and disruptive, and can result in the end of the friendship. I was never cut from the same mold as this lady and it always caused some strained moments. We don't have to be two peas in a pod to get along, right? However, I don't think she sees things this way.
Oddly, I think she views me as not rad-trad enough.
I joined St. Agnes back when I was in college (in the 80s). I didn't join St. Agnes because it was arguably the traddiest place in the diocese at the time, but because I loved the Mass as it was said here without distractions or disruptions. The litany of other great things about the parish and its trad pedigree were nice, but none of these where what drew me. I was peacefully ignorant of most of the debate between the trads and the liberals.
About the time I had my son, this friend and I really started to become close. But, there were always undercurrents about how "this or that" was best. Her opinions weren't limited to religious things, but nearly every aspect of my life. There was a great deal of pressure on how I raised my son. If I didn't use cloth diapers, make my own baby food, nurse for two years, homeschool, etc., then I just wasn't passing muster. This way was the ONLY way. Advice for dealing with others not as like-minded as myself was to cut them off, my brother included. I was told that my saintly aunt, who has a simple faith and doesn't approach things intellectually at all but from her heart, didn't believe in the Real Presence because if she did she wouldn't have these questions about her faith. Her questions were like those of St. Therese, not brought about by pride but by love.
This friend, and those around her, walk precariously close the sedevacantist camp. She believes in a great number of conspiracy theories and was critical of me when I didn't endeavor to learn all about them. For me, these theories, along with some unapproved apparitions and questionable assertions from a few priests (the Third Secret of Fatima cover-up for example), cause more paranoia than they do to further my faith and draw me closer to God.
When my brother stopped by on his way back to Switzerland, he was talking about the recent military surge in Iraq. He was explaining how the surge worked. It wasn't a matter of having more troops to fight, the plan wasn't merely to out number the enemy. Previously, the military would come into a town and get rid of the bad guys and then they would move on. Once the military left a particular town, the bad guys would move right back in. This was very chaotic for the civilians of Iraq, but also a waste of time and resources for the military. With the surge, once a town is cleared of the bad guys, some of our good guys stay so that the town remains safe and free. That's how the surge is working.
We are told that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church. The sedevacantists believe we have no Pope, or worse that the Pope is really an anti-Pope. From my point of view, to have no Pope, when one is clearly elected, would be like the Gates of Hell prevailing. Jesus came and established His Church. He cleaned out the bad guys, leaving His successor to protect and lead us.
If only my psychologically expensive friend expended more energy in drawing closer to Christ than looking over her shoulder for all the bad guys she believes are lurking behind her.
Maybe it's best just to let things be, but I think the charitable thing to do is write her a nice letter and touch base. In this case, distance is probably a blessing, but estrangement and discord are never good.
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
I need some serious mid-week input from you...
4 hours ago