I recently spoke to someone who got a promotion. Sweet! But the response of colleagues who wanted the job was sour. It doesn’t take long for some people to turn a positive into a negative, excitement to anxiety, and what should have been an opportunity to share with others into a reason to avoid them. What to do?
In June 1955 Mary Willis Shelburne found herself in such a situation. For reasons now unknown she was caught in the middle of collaborators who were not getting along. And as always happens in such situations it was taking a toll on the middleman, or middlewoman, or perhaps it is middleperson.
She shared some of her distress in a letter to C. S. Lewis who, in response, passed along this short piece of advice,
“I’m sorry about your two jealous colleagues. I suppose the only way with thorns in the flesh (until one can get them out) is not to press on the place where they are embedded: i.e. to stop one’s thoughts (firmly but gently: no good snapping at one’s self, it only increases the fuss—read St. Francois de Sales’ chapter on Meekness towards oneself) whenever one finds them moving towards the unpleasant people.”1
Good counsel. Keep out of it is much as you can or get out of it is as soon you can.
“To step between two people arguing is as foolish as going out into the street and grabbing a stray dog by the ears.” – Proverbs 26:17, Easy-to-Read Version.
1. Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 622.