January 12 – Not Without Nelly

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. Proverbs 26:20

My sis and I grew up watching Michael Landon’s Little House on the Prairie. I loved the show but almost every episode I’d get ticked at Nelly Olson. That chick was always stirring up some kind of mess, but nobody seemed to want to put her in her place because her Mama was ten times worse.

Part of my extreme frustration with the “Nelly” character stemmed from having my very own at school. I had a classmate in those days who could have taught little Miss Olson a thing or two about the art of “busybody-ness and tattle-telling.”

Every single day of fifth and sixth grade she seemed to torment me. Anything I said got misconstrued and all that I did, she had something to say about it. And because I wasn’t good at arguing diplomatically back when, I would just get mad, then get in trouble, and she come away looking squeaky clean.

One day, however, that all changed. She crossed the line and stirred up a hornet’s nest that just about shut the school down. Police were called and potential criminal charges were being discussed. Several little boys narrowly avoided unjustified consequences.

So it was then when I learned one of the wisest strategies in dealing with a “Nelly.” First, I have to be willing to recognize what is happening. Then, I have to prevent myself from taking his or her accusations personally (no emotional response.) Then I make myself speak well of them, no matter what. Why, you say? In doing so, I give them absolutely no “wood to burn!”

That’s been over thirty years ago and I still struggle with a Nelly from time to time. But in that time frame, I have worked to build some healthy relationships and even call some “friend.”

“Nelly’s” are here to stay, so get a game plan. Underneath all of that “persnickety” you might find a really cool person!

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