Is it Ok to excuse an adult for behavior you would punish your kids for? This is a question I am pondering because I encountered a very very rude adult at church. While I was complaining about the behavior, two of her friends came to her defense. I was told that she is one of the nicest, kind hearted people I would ever come in contact with. They said she would do anything she can for you. She just has a “personality” and you just have to get used to her. My issue is she is old enough to know better. And, I remember a nice kind old lady in my church growing up just like her, Sister W. That woman was one of the reasons I had to be dragged into any kind of leadership role in successive churches. I always felt I would encounter a Sister W. I knew a Sister W was not going to bring out the best in me. I also felt that Sister W stole a lot of my worship from me. As an adult I get that I gave up my worship and Sister W was indeed a very nice person who would be mortified to know that I disliked her enough to hold back in church. But still, maybe things would have been different if her friends had said to her that she was rude and needed to check her behavior instead of telling me and others that she meant no harm or that’s just the way she is.
I read a piece by Blogher’s Mata H. on your ideal place of worship and this incident instantly came to mind. This makes me wonder if this is really my ideal place of worship. I want a place where I and my children can grow spiritually, be nurtured, loved and feel safe. I am not into having to walk on eggshells to account for someone’s personality. That did not work out well for me in my marriage, hence the EX husband. I am almost never rude I go out of my way to make people feel special and welcome. So why then do I get treated with such disrespect and then told ‘it just the way she is’.
Back to my original point why is it that we expect more from kids than adults? If either of these defenders of this lady had been told that their kids behaved this way they would have apologized to me and made their kids apologize. A friend of mine told me that she once took her son to a church service when he was 4 or 5 and he behaved very badly. She said she got him in the foyer of the church and said “you know better than to act this way. We do not behave like this in church.” He responded to her by saying “mommy this not a real church, because that man up there was drunk at pa pa’s house yesterday”. She said she was stunned and so were the people in the foyer. She said so we just left. Our children are watching us. Be it the child like me who just sat in church for years because I felt like all churches had a Sister W or this little boy who felt he was not in a real church because he saw the minister drunk the day before. Why defend the adult who should know better than to behave this way and esp in church. When is it appropriate to say to a friend that was rude you owe her/him an apology? If you are truly a friend why not have that conversation? How do you handle an adult’s bad behavior? Remember your kids or someone else’s may be watching.