Flattering lips tend to bite you in the arse…REALLY???

downtown atlanta 4

I thought you were the most awesome Christian but now I think you are the worst!” he said

By Kenneth Justice

~ Awhile back at coffee I met a 30-something man who had recently been released from jail after a variety of run-ins with the law. The man was an avid-marijuana smoker but for whatever reason all the pot he smoked didn’t seem to chill him out at all; he had some major addiction problems regarding sex-related crimes and activities.

After meeting him one morning and listening to a couple of his stories, over the course of the next month the man latched onto me like he was my puppy. I don’t really try and ‘hide’ the various coffee shops and café’s I hang out at and before I realized what was happening the marijuana man would appear daily at the different café’s I would sit at.

The dude had a serious case of ‘man crush’ and wouldn’t leave me alone. Day-after-day he would sit at the table’s next to me and tell me all sorts of flowery phrases,

—-) “Oh Kenneth, you are so cool!”

—-) “Kenneth, you’re not like the other Christians, you’re so much nicer

—-) “Kenneth, I wish I had known you when we were younger, I didn’t have any friends like you!”

It was a bit overwhelming running into the guy every week because he would often monopolize my time and distract me from being able to do anything else; he was very needy, in terms of social connection issues, and he desperately wanted a ton of attention……and unfortunately I simply couldn’t give him the level of attention he demanded.

After the guy hung out with me for a weeks I couldn’t help but think of the verse, “Beware of flattering lips…

Obviously I couldn’t live up to this guy’s unrealistic notion of who he thought I was…..I’m every bit as imperfect as the next person and so clearly his expectations of me would at some point crash and burn; and about a year later, just as quick as he had developed a man-crush on me he suddenly began hating me.

Whether it was due to my heavy criticism of him regarding the way he interacted with women, (I had told him he was no longer welcome to sit next to me at a café because he wouldn’t stop gawking at the young women who would walk by) or whether it was because he just simply found a chink in my armor (hey, I’m no more perfect than anyone else)…..he quickly went from being a dude who was fascinated with me to being a dude who didn’t like me very much at all.

Beware of flattering lips…

My writing experience throughout this past year has involved a number of similar circumstances that reminded me of the marijuana man; I’ve had a couple different readers who went above and beyond merely saying, “I enjoyed your article”…..but instead, they sent me multiple emails flowering me with too much praise and adoration. When people put you up on a high pedestal there is simply no way that you can meet the expectations they have of you

Beware of flattering lips…

This problem often occurs in dating relationships as well; there can be a tendency to jump into a new relationship and only see the person for their good points…..in the beginning it’s easy to miss all the imperfections and flaws in the boyfriend or girlfriend, and its only as that honeymoon period finally dies down a bit that you face the real person behind the mask

Beware of flattering lips…

Unfortunately, some people don’t end up truly learning who the other person is until after the marriage. It’s not till they have a ring on their finger and they’ve committed their life to their spouse that they realize, “OMG, I didn’t really know who this person was until now that we are married!”

Beware of flattering lips…

This past week I received an email from one of those ‘flattering lips’ readers who has reversed course and ended up writing a very judgmental email to me. The reader happens to be some type of fundamentalist Christian and sadly it’s those type that often write me the most judgmental and condemning-toned emails. It’s fascinating to me how quickly someone can turn against you….especially since I am the same person today that I was last week, the week before, and the year before that.

The simple truth is that none of us are perfect; and whether we are the President, the Prime Minister, the Priest, or the Parishioner, we are going to eventually mess up and stumble. Perhaps we will say the wrong thing, or use the wrong tone, or get caught lying, or even worse; maybe people will catch us smoking a cigarette in a room with a sign that says “NO SMOKING”.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there looking for a hero. They want someone whom they can emulate and look up to; they want a Batman or Green Lantern who always does the right thing and is there to save the day no matter how dark the skies are. Perhaps it’s because so much of the Western World sucks. The economy blows, joblessness abounds, homelessness seems to be on the rise, too many fathers abandon their children…..everywhere we turn there are things we can find that are really messed up.

But as my closet friends can tell you; “Kenneth is no superhero”. Sure, I enjoy coffee and conversation, and I try to do my best to be a good friend towards those I love….I try to love and cherish all those I meet……but I’m no more perfect than the next person. Has there ever been a perfect person that walked the earth? Some of us think there was……but that’s a whole different conversation altogether,

For now I just need another cup of coffee,

Kenneth

I’m coming to Chicago next weekend! Check my homepage for dates and locations, I’d love to have coffee with you!



Categories: relationships

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

83 replies

  1. Hey – is that my Batman? Give him back!! 🙂

    Pedestals should be real, not virtual. Neat post!!

  2. I’m sorry that has happened to you. People usually see a mirror rather than the person. It’s only those with whom we share quiet time and trouble, I think, that get past that stage. There are very few like that, in my experience.

    On another note, my husband thinks I am like this with him, praising him too much in my poetry. But after 25 years, I can honestly say that some few do belong on a pedestal. It’s my job to help steady his.

  3. I think this is a great post, Kenneth. Okay, now, watch out!

  4. Love the title…very appropriate to the topic.

    Your ability to take these things in the right perspective…and then create a post about it, that’s a good thing.

    You are who you are, bold enough to express your feelings. I don’t see many others laying it out like that. If they don’t like it…they can change the station. Sad, they have to strike out before doing so.

    Carry on.

  5. I hope you don’t mind, I posted the link to this blog on the Facebook page of a domestic violence transition program I work for. This type of behavior is what we often warn women about, most abusers start out with this type of behavior. Thank you for posting.

  6. Important and accurate observations about human nature. Most of the time, our first attitudes toward people evolve into something more realistic, less idealistic. Often, it doesn’t hurt anything. The relationship might grow, in fact. The thing you seem to be describing is much more profound. It defies logic and our ability to accept it. I’m happy to say it is not something I have felt from others overtly. I’m usually cautious and let relationships grow.

    • “I’m usually cautious and let relationships grow”

      I think the word ‘cautious’ is very appropriate; because too many people are quick to jump into things without much thought

  7. Great post Kenneth, no worries though…Jesus is still my “superhero”. Row well brother…

  8. Just when I was beginning to gaze up to the highest pedestal, Kenneth…….LOL……just joking, of course.

    But seriously, I’ve never seen a perfect person before – I wonder what they look like? I wonder if there is such a person.

    (I feel a story from my past asking to be told here).

    I wonder if they look like ………say……….hmmm….. Rob Lowe (the actor). I have to pick him because I actually did go out with a guy who looked like him about 33+ years ago. In the end I got fed up with some of his late night visits (in which we spent hours talking…….yes……talking). I was struggling to keep up the late-night pace.

    Anyway, many months later, at a party, a mutual friend asked what had happened and why we had parted. I told him. Then he said something which really knocked me for a six. This mutual friend said M’s Father was dying in hospital and I was the only person he could talk to. Apparently, he would often drop by late at night after he’d seen his Father in the hospital and longed for a female he could really talk to (without feeling pressured).

    That night, (or early morning I should say), I sent M on his way, was the night his Father died. Strange, but M never, ever told me his Father was dying – he just wanted to talk about everyday sort of stuff. He just wanted to be in my presence and ‘hang out’ together at the time of night when he felt really low and sad.

    I might suggest here, that maybe it’s better to marry your best friend, ’cause once the gloss and glamour wears off, the kids grow up and move out, and you’re looking well past your prime, it’s true friendship that keeps you together and the attraction from fading.

    True friendship lasts the test of time. Lust fades quicker than the brilliant colours of a beautiful sunset.

    And ‘Pedastals”…………… well, they eventually break…………. and are thrown out for the weekly rubbish collection.

    • So weird that you mention Rob Lowe…. just last night I was watching the film “About last night” with him and Demi Moore, I hadn’t seen it in years.

      And I really love the story your shared…… this sentence is particularly poignant, “maybe its better to marry your best friend, ’cause once the gloss and glamour wears off, the kids grow up and move out, and you’re looking well past your prime”…. so beautiful!

  9. I know exactly what you mean. Even before the negative comments come, being held on a pedestal is stressful. Speaking from experience, it can feel like you’re keeping the biggest secret in the world when someone holds you above everyone else. You know you’re just as ‘normal’ as the next person. You have flaws. Yet, here is this person holding you too high. How long until they discover you both stand on the same ground?

    • Its a really hard position to be in; I’ve known women who dated men that looked to highly upon them, and men who dated women that looked too highly upon them….. relationships, friendships, and acquaintanceships that involve that level of connection tend to end up failing…….

      And your conclusion is spot on, “how long until they discover you both stand on the same ground”

  10. I believe only Love is perfect – not people. The best people can do is try their best to bring more love into the world, imperfectly as we may. Thanks, Kenneth 🙂

  11. Kenneth, your the best..lol
    Bad decisions make good stories.
    I like this post even though I feel bad that you had to bite your tongue & put up with his flattering lips coffee after coffee..I’ve known few people that amazes me from flattering lips turned to enemies.
    Rules are perfect and people are irrational.

  12. My mother had a quote for this that I thought was brilliant. She said, “I try not to be perfect. It makes people nervous.”

  13. The true super hero is the one person who does things to help others without ever considering to get better from it.
    And let it be those people who are forgotten or ignored. and mistreated.
    cheers on the coffee.

  14. That’s the absolute best thing I have ever read.

  15. I just wanted you to know that I THOUGHT you were perfect and really liked your posts and then you…… (JUST KIDDING!! :D)

  16. Loved this. I’ve recently had a lesson reinforced, I wrote something with a happy heart, and it really hurt and offended someone close to me. We sat and talked about it, and she ended up stating that she was hurt, and that it wasn’t like me and maybe she had read it and let her issues cloud. She had read it and her issues clouded and changed the tone of the piece, and fortunately, she was able to recognize that and make peace with it. But it was a good reminder that people will color everything based on their experience!

  17. I dislike flattering lips same as I do with persistent types. I reckon they don’t have “all the teeth as a cover of the tongue”. That’s pretty sad, I must say.

  18. You are so right, flattery is suspicious. From here on out I promise you nothing but insults. However, you mentioned the Green Lantern, so I’ll cut you some slack today 🙂

  19. Yikes…been there, done that.

    Only God can give those people what they truly need. Now when I have a leech trying to suck the life out of me I just put a little salt on them (being the salt of the earth) and then redirect them to the source of life…God.

    And yes…fundamentalism tries to suck the life out of grace…to bad fundamentalists forget that we are save by grace and not of works (the law)…least any man should boast. If we were perfect there would be no need for grace, eh?

    Good post….thanks Kenneth 🙂

    • I think it can be fundamentalist-any-particular-religion, not just Christianity, but since i’m here in the U.S. I tend to run into fundamentalist Christians more often then I run into fundy’s from other religion

      And your right about the grace thing, I’m totally with you

  20. Don’t forget Gainesville, Florida!!!

  21. Beware of people who are looking for perfection. They are simply trying to impose their values on you…

  22. I’ve had some “Kling-ons” myself. Needy people and honestly I try to help but after awhile it becomes apparent that they are not there for help, friendship, or anything – except for themselves at the price of me, my time, my family, and my ministry. Sad. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

    • This occurs quite a bit with people who are in various positions of authority such as ministers, pastors, priests, governors, presidents, etc….. it can be very troubling because when someone is a position that involves a great deal of responsibility, to have to deal with someone who is so extreme is yet another difficult element that has to be dealt with

  23. You’re very right… I never connected it with that verse, thank you. I’m sorry for the fact that you have haters… and that kind are particularly just so creepy!
    I had a man commenting on my blog, at first he was enamored with my stuff, thought I was a good wife and mother and Christian, then suddenly because I wasn’t the perfect Christian he wanted me to be, he turned to harassment, posting horrible comments calling me names, shaming me, even saying I deserved to burn in hell with the rest of the hypocrites. It was insane.

    But you are right that it was fascinating in a way how someone could totally flip going from extreme to extreme. I think these people must’ve been seriously wounded either in childhood or later in adolescence… they are searching for a false savior like you alluded to. ?? Just my random thoughts 🙂

    • Excellent example; its exactly what happens to me quite regularly with various readers…..I wish I understood why they flip from one extreme to the next so suddenly but I really don’t know….

      Thanks for the great comments 🙂

  24. You make many excellent points in this post. I’ve run into people like the man you wrote about and they can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes I worry I married a man like that actually. The only thing worse than being put on a pedestal is being slapped off it and then punished because you failed to maintain their illusion of you. What has always seemed ironic to me is that the people who live to please others never seem to find the people who need constant attention. The needy people always gravitate towards independent people and the ones who like to take care of others seek out people that are impossible to please. I wonder if people just like to set themselves up to fail in relationships.

    • “The needy people always gravitate towards independent people and the ones who like to take care of others seek out people that are impossible to please. ”

      I wonder if they gravitate toward independent people because they themselves are not independent and want to be more like that?

    • One can hope that is the inspiration behind such events, it would be beneficial if that was the case.

    • Well, the latter I think is a case of what’s called “codependency” in psychological terms. The former– I dunno, I think they were usually called “toxic”, or “energy drainers”, or something like that.

      This reminds me a lot of my recovery work. Addiction involves people, and apparently, people can be addicted TO other people. Probably explains this cycle of adoration and gossip that we see with mass media and the spotlight.

    • dude you are up EARLY! Its got to be like 4 am where your at 😉

    • I was up late. The weather is hurting me, literally.

  25. Nice post about people and their expectations. It really boils down to a preconceived selfish motive on their part I think. When it doesn’t work out the way they had expected we become trash in their minds. Thanks!

  26. Hmmmmm, expectations eh. My hubby is really big into accepting errors. Poor guy has told me that he doesn’t feel like he can err with me. I’m trying to stop expecting perfection, but a lot of the western world really does expect perfection, don’t you think? I know I’m far, oh but so far from being perfect. I love the Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy”. “I have no gift to bring. Shall I play for him. On my drum…. I played my drum for him. I played my best for him. Then he smiled at me. Me and my drum.” He wasn’t a perfect drummer. He just did offered his best out of humility. I swear, that song makes me cry.
    Ok, enough of my ranting.
    =)

    • In some ways I often think its more healthy to see the faults and errors in another person in order that we don’t crash and burn when we eventually come face to face with the realization that they aren’t perfect….. we also don’t want to fall into the trap of adoring a human too much….

      Thanks for the great comments as usual 🙂

  27. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there looking for a hero. They want someone whom they can emulate and look up to; they want a Batman or Green Lantern who always does the right thing and is there to save the day no matter how dark the skies are. Perhaps it’s because so much of the Western World sucks. The economy blows, joblessness abounds, homelessness seems to be on the rise, too many fathers abandon their children…..everywhere we turn there are things we can find that are really messed up.”

    I think this is what went wrong with the people who lived at the time of Jesus too. People wanted a hero that would just fix everything for them forever. When Jesus had plans other than what people expected, then they were angry at him. This story has been repeated many times. Sometimes, the greatest hero a person has is themself. No one can think and act in a way that pleases everyone.

    • Interesting thought Chandler….. yea, it seems they had the idea that they wanted Jesus to lead a rebellion against Rome and that definitely wasn’t part of his plan at all.

  28. Good insights today. As far as the hero-worship/man-crush thing, you won’t have to worry about me.

    • It was a good piece. I’ve actually experienced what you wrote about. It’s flattering and creepy at the same time. I don’t know why people put their happiness into someone else’s hands like that. At least 1 of your 44k followers just wants to read the posts. Have a great evening.

  29. Did you read my poem today? I think the same people who are emailing you are bugging me. I think I’d rather be yelled at by extreme Christains, than men who think its okay to be out of line on my blog. Sorry to hijack the topic, Kenneth.

    I’m only writing poetry about cats and family reunions from now on. Writing of love brings out the CRAZY people.

    Thanks for the reminder…beware of flattering lips, is right. I am no longer nice or funny. It sends the wrong message.

    • Audrey, I did read your poem. I can’t imagine why you would get unkind emails or comments because all of your poems and posts are so, well…. nice. I mean, what is there for anyone to complain about?

    • Ill have to check it out. I hear ya sister. Writing about anything can make people crazy 🙂

    • Good to know, because I write about a lot of things. Haven’t seen him around in awhile..so thinking he has found something else to do. 🙂 Thanks for the follow. I will have to come say Hi. 🙂

    • Thanks I appreciate the support! Sometimes there are people who look for a debate . Its hard when we r not wired like that, I try not to engage with unwarranted negativity . I welcome constructive criticism but pure malice not needed. Keeo writing from the heart!

  30. I hope you don’t think I’ve put you up on a pedestal. I don’t think you’re perfect. I think you are real.

  31. You wrote: “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there looking for a hero. They want someone whom they can emulate and look up to; they want a Batman or Green Lantern who always does the right thing and is there to save the day no matter how dark the skies are. Perhaps it’s because so much of the Western World sucks. The economy blows, joblessness abounds, homelessness seems to be on the rise, too many fathers abandon their children…..everywhere we turn there are things we can find that are really messed up.”

    This is how, I believe, the future world ruler will grow to power. People do need a hero. As Christians we know the only One who will never disappoint, is Jesus. We should strive to live in such a way that we point these lonely, hungry people to the Bread of Life and He who loves so much, He died for us.

    Beautiful, poignant post as always Kenneth. Blessings in Chicago!

  32. Haha. Aren’t you full of yourself?

  33. If I ever flattered you too much Kenneth I’d be happy to correct that now LOL. J/K. This article, at least in moments, really strikes a chord with me this week in particular. I somehow ended up caught up in someone else’s drama and it’s all due to learning the true side of someone – well that’s what it comes down to anyway. It’s a crap process to go through for anyone regardless of the situation and yet, it’s good if it happens early because then you don’t waste a bunch of time, energy and sometimes money finding out the truth. I’m sorry the marijuana guy turned out to be a butthead. I suppose in the end you were spared huh…lol? As for others, well I think the same applies to anyone like that – you’re better off without creepers though it sucks getting that kind of backlash. Keep on keepin’ on. 🙂

  34. You said, “The man was an avid-marijuana smoker but for whatever reason all the pot he smoked didn’t seem to chill him out at all”; I didn’t realize that pot chilled you out; from observation of one of my nephews, the evidence indicate that it makes you hungry enough to commit a class A raid on the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator in an effort to consume as much food and drink as possible then fall asleep. Should my nephew then smoke more pot to reach the desired effect of “chilling out”? W
    Deadpan.

    • I completely agree with you; in my addictions studies courses back in college the research evidence seemed to indicate that marijuana in large doses has the exact opposite effect that most people think it does………..

  35. Thank you for this post. I always have had 2 or 3 people with issues like your erstwhile companion in my life: people with issues that run dark and deep and the black-and-white-thinking and high emotions which are constant companions of those sorts of issues. The many brilliant comments to this post has made me think hard about how I haved tried to love these people (what an amazing collection of people). Because I am an eternal optimist and I do believe that love and truth can – not cure – but light a different path. But I am thinking back, and there are only a few relationships that have not turned out the way one part of my brain expected them to end when a relationship starts with so much startling self-disclosure and (yeuch) flattery. I guess I have always been ok with that, though. So long as I am happy that I have been truthful, as you always were with this man. I hope he is ok and his pain hasn’t created more issues. I hope he can remember the enjoyment he derived from your company before you couldn’t (nobody could) live up to the man in his head. I hope he can make peace with that man one day.

  36. That sentence in bold is freaking me out…nice. Thanks a lot. Maybe its because I’ve recently been dealing with a stage 5 clinger on my blog. He’s creepin around on some of my earliest posts. At one point he said he was going to spank me. Is that something you deal with on here? Lol…probably not. Just me…I guess I send the wrong message. Currently going dark with my poems to rid of him. Hope it works. See…I think angry Christians might be easier to work with. 🙂

    (You can delete this…I just wanted to make you laugh a bit.)

  37. Thank you for this!! I really needed to read this for various reasons. I used to isolate bc I Hated Being needed it freaked the eff out (sorry I know this is faith based , speaking from heart) so now im learning how to be a more open person while setting up proper boundaries. Thanks!!

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