When someone is targeted with negativity, people come up with unratified, unwritten rules to which the person must adhere or be considered even more flawed.
The first rule is this one: “Don’t fight back.”
No one should set up himself or herself for disappointment by thinking that I’m going to keep that rule. I fight back.
When it’s fight or flight, I stand my ground and fight.
A spectator in life was direct in asking me, “Buddy, do you realize that you are hardheaded?”
I responded with a question: “Do you realize that His Love Counseling Services wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been hardheaded? Directorship is being resolute during uphill challenges.”
When I was 13, my country bus driver quipped to my mom, “Your youngest son is a banty rooster.”
My mother was a part of the reason. She said innumerable times, “Take up for yourself. No one is gonna do it for you. It’s your responsibility.”
So, many years later, a stranger phoned my office and pointedly said to me, “I just wanted to tell you that I didn’t like your column in the newspaper this week!”
I replied, “I’ve written over 2,000 published columns, have you liked any of them? And, why did you wait until you didn’t like something to call me?”
Then he flipped it, saying, “I can’t believe a man of your stature would have his feelings on his sleeve.”
I responded, “No. Don’t flip this. I’m not flawed because I don’t like how negative are your volleys.”
The second unwritten rule is similar to the first rule: Don’t be defensive.
I learned about the second rule when I was pastor of a church. A group of people formed a rogue committee for detailing the faults of the minister. As I learned about what was being said, I explained the truth of the matters.
Then, the committee members further dissed me to each other by concluding this: “Oh, it’s a shame that he’s being defensive.”
Defending yourself against error is bad? Seriously? Now I’m seen as unprofessional? Who’s making up this rule about defensiveness? Who is ratifying it? Don’t cooperate. False accusation is a set up for correction. God created us to seek justice in all things.
The third unwritten rule is this one: You shouldn’t take it personally.
That’s absurd in that it doesn’t even make sense. If an attack is individualized, it’s personal.
The gentleman who criticized my column accusingly stated, “I thought you were above taking my criticism personally.”
I asked, “Whose name is on the column that you are criticizing?”
At 15 years old, I handed a sample of my cursive handwriting to my father. I asked him, “Does my writing look nice to you?”
Ever clever, he picked up a lead pencil and drew chicken feet tracks in the margins.
Puzzled, I asked, “What does that mean?”
He said, “It’s chicken scratch.”
I took that personally because it was personal. A handwriting expert deciphers features unique to a person.
The fourth unwritten rule is this one: If you take up for yourself without giving in, you are not coming to terms with your faults.
Remember the last snow in southern Brazoria County? As the snow began to melt, I cruised around town on my beautiful flaming-red Honda Shadow 1100 motorcycle to take in the sights.
A few days later, someone accused me, saying, “You showed a bad example to children by rutting up people’s lawns with your motorcycle.”
“No! I didn’t!” I protested. “There are a lot of reasons why that can’t be true!”
I listed the reasons: “1) I can’t do doughnuts in people’s lawns because my knee replacements won’t hold up a thousand-pound bike. 2) I’m so particular, that I keep my motorcycle in the garage and covered with a drape. 3) I’ve never ridden my bike in the rain much less in the mud. 4) And how would I identify myself to enraged residents? ‘I’m director of His Love Counseling’? Can’t happen.”
My accuser flipped it so I’d seem worse, “You don’t take criticism well. You must have difficulty admitting when you’re wrong.”
Again, fight. “I don’t receive your criticism well because it’s bogus. You’ve got the wrong red motorcycle. I wouldn’t do what you say I did.”
Readers, take up for yourselves in spite of unratified, unwritten rules; it’s not wrong to be strong.