I had a guy unfriend me on Facebook. Yes, we were arguing politics. Both of our passions were high. The funny thing is how I know he unfriended me is because I received a friend request from him an hour later. I just thought it was another guy with the same name. I hoped this new John Doe would be more sensible and have a brain unlike the last one. I accepted the request and he immediately messaged me confessing his shame. He was not saying he was wrong about the arguments, or that he should think more deeply before coming to his political conclusions. What was he sorry about? He was sorry that his passions got too high. “I’m sorry I unfriended you. It was wrong. Please accept my apology. I get too passionate and do stupid things like that.”

It’s funny how things work. While I don’t know him other than a few conversations here and there on Facebook, this series of events made me like and respect him more than if he had never unfriended me in the first place. Vulnerability, especially when it is personal, digs deeper into the human psyche than any life of mistakeless perfection could possibly hope for. Our mistakes have so much opportunity if we make the right moves afterward.

I remember being taken aback by this in college. My girlfriend and I were at a bar. I could not find her for a bit. When I went and looked I found her talking to another guy (who happened to be my sister’s ex-boyfriend). Who does he think he is! Talking to MY girlfriend? Of course, being the master of my territory (as well as being drunk as snot), I decided to start a fight with him. I pushed him and he looked at me like I was crazy.

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The next morning I got up and felt terrible about it. I decided to look up his phone number and give him a call. This was not easy at all and I almost called it off thinking it was unnecessary overkill since I’ll probably never see him again. When he answered the phone, I could tell he was surprised to hear from me and did not expect me to say what I was about to. “Will, this is Michael. Michael Patton. Listen, I am so sorry for doing that last night. It was stupid and immature.” He then told me that my apology just established my character with him more than if I had never done anything to apologize for. Wow! Who knew? I figure my bowing up my chest in his face and pushing him really hard into the bar was an establishment of the character I wanted! But really, I liked this a lot more. His response came out of left field. I just wanted to say I was sorry because I was wrong. But he did something else with it that I am sure surprised him.

Fifteen years later this guy called me and wanted to talk about God. He was broken and wanted advice. I was able to introduce him to the Lord that day. It was the first time I had talked to him since that morning fifteen years before.

I thank my Facebook friend for that same reminder tonight, especially when I really REALLY really always want to be right, fear mistakes (and the way they make me look), and still want to bow up in people’s face. We were in a heated argument one minute, questioning each other’s humanity, an hour later I had respect for him that few people (including myself) ever give the opportunity for others to have.

I don’t know how to tell you to apply this right now except that respect and friendship come in the most unexpected ways. Don’t think that the mysterious Wind isn’t blowing during these seemingly dark times. He is and He will come out of nowhere.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    7 replies to "How to Gain Respect When You Hate Everyone and Think They are Idiots"

    • Konstantin Aladieff

      I really like this post. Especially during a time like this. Michael. Keep teaching and sharing your work with others. God will always be needed in this world. It is a privilege to serve with you brother. I wish you and your family the very best.

    • Robert

      subscribe

    • Clint

      Very good. A couple grammar misses (the word to instead of too, and bow instead of blow). Thanks for this simple yet important reminder. Blessings.

      • Jeremy

        In my area, to “bow up” is slang for getting angry and trying to fight. I think it comes from the physical posture of throwing your chest forward and your shoulders back, or possibly a reference to what a cat does when it feels threatened.

    • mary beth shipley

      What a testimony !! Love this essay! All praise and glory to our Lord!

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