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  • Writer's pictureJoy Earle

I Don't Like You

I Don’t Like You There are four words in our English language that when put together in a statement strike fear into the heart of an approval addict. They are, “I don’t like you.” Approval addicts are triggered by such words and as one of those addicted to the opinion of others for most of my life, this is not a welcome phrase; in fact it is horrifying. Hard pill to swallow but sometimes people are not going to like you. I have been a performer most of my life, first in my parents’ living room with the fireplace hearth as my stage, then the solos in school and church choirs with outstanding reviews. What I never expected came after the first night of a weekend conference my husband and I were leading with music and teaching in North Carolina. This was not a small gathering -- it was over a thousand in attendance from churches all over the state and beyond. That first evening was so fun. There was much laughter, singing and celebration with this crowd and we were so grateful. Normally there are those attendees that linger after an event, many of whom want to let you know how much they enjoyed the program. But on this occasion there was one that patiently waited to share her thoughts. She approached with a hanky in her hand and a scowl on her face. Her name tag said “PAT.” I reached out to shake her hand and she would have none of that. She said, “I will not be attending any more of the sessions this weekend.” I felt bad for her and let her know that the sessions were taped and she was welcome to sign up to get one. “No, you don’t understand,” she scowled. “I DON’T LIKE YOU.” And there it was out there for the world to hear, and I just stood there with a silly smile on my face and burning sensations in my throat. “I’m sorry,” I replied; at least I think that is what I said? She continued, “I thought your jokes were ridiculous, and the fact that you made fun of our Tennessee football team was just over the top. The way you go on and on with your stories that others may find amusing makes it a shame because you do seem to have a beautiful singing voice.” And with that she turned on her heel, stuffed her hanky under her watchband and walked away. I was never given the chance to win PAT over. She was gone. I had no idea what church she was with, but my guess is it was in Tennessee! I was stunned, unable to move really, and then the Lord quietly whispered that He was doing a work in her life, and He was using me to do it, so let it be. God sure did not use me the way I thought He would that weekend. He allowed for a bad review. One person out of over one thousand and the only thought I had most of the weekend was hanky-toting PAT.

Several years later I was invited to speak and sing for a women’s event outside of Knoxville, TN. The pastor greeted me as I arrived and as we were getting set up, he reminded me that years prior they had been to a conference in North Carolina and enjoyed the ministry of my husband and I. Then he whispered, “We were the church that brought PAT, and I am to relay to you from her that she will not be here tonight (big surprise I thought), but she admitted to me and others that she is embarrassed because she was wrong and feels just awful about her comments to you. She was in a very bad place at the time and took it out on you." Wow, without any help from me, PAT likes me now, she really likes me! The truth is there were more PATs in my life after her. I just didn't know who they were. We will never be able to please everyone; as many in the room that like us, there will be some that don't like us, and that, my friends, is human nature. What keeps me going is knowing this: If God is for me, it doesn’t matter who is against me. Zephaniah 3:17

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