Have you ever had someone that, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, is an ongoing source of conflict? Maybe it’s a member of your family or a coworker or a neighbor. You do your best to take the high road, extend grace, initiate good will, but to no avail. The person remains like a gnat flying around that just won’t leave you alone.
Maybe you’ve thought long and hard about why the conflict exists and there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it. It just ends up being one of those relationships that drives you to want to respond with your worst ways. There is another route to go in dealing with a difficult person: nothing.
One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld was “The Frogger”. Elaine stumbles upon a slice of cake in a refrigerator in Peterman’s office. She starts to sneak away bites of the cake throughout the story. What she doesn’t know is that the cake is from the 1937 wedding of King Edward VIII, worth $29,000 as a collector’s item.
Peterman eventually finds out what’s been going on through a security camera. Elaine is concerned what her fate will be. Peterman suggests that what her digestive system is about to experience after eating a fifty year old cake will be punishment enough.
Pastor and author Andy Stanley teaches a concept called the principle of the path. In short it puts forward the idea that “direction not intention determines our destination.” Sometimes people don’t need any reprimand or correction other than the natural consequences of their own actions. Every choice takes a person one step further down a predictable path that can be good or bad.
This can be hard for someone whose natural tendency is to want to fix things. It’s a struggle when you see someone going down a dangerous path and you’re inclined to want to help them. It isn’t easy dealing with a difficult personality who just continues to rub you the wrong way.
Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Sometimes you need to exercise the greatest restraint in spite of what you may feel. Sometimes you just need to let them eat cake.