I’ve seen it time and again, both in families and in friendship circles.
It’s that one friend… the wild one, the one making bad decisions, the one in and out of trouble, the one stirring up controversy (sometimes for attention and sometimes just for excitement). The one friend that everyone gives up on because the lessons never seem to be learned, the consequences seem to get bigger, the stakes seem to get higher…
After a time, the friend fades off into obscurity, known as the “black sheep.” The idiom is common in every language from the United Kingdom in Western Europe all the way east to Bulgaria and Romania.
In nature, black sheep are recessive. Nature is neither right or wrong; it just is.
The problem was what humans did with sheep wool. The wool from black sheep was not as profitable because you couldn’t dye black wool. As the 18th and 19th centuries approached, it was looked at as a mark of evil, as sign of rebellion and a refusal to follow proper paths.
Sorry for the journey into the historical source of the phrase… back to our wayward friend. Sometimes, wayward friends somehow find the right pasture and start to act like wise souls and be respectable.
The real question is what do we do with a returned black sheep. Do we love them enough to give them space and time to let the good choices flow?
Sadly, sometimes, the answer is no. We tend to remember the past history and use it to aggressively tell stories that remind the person of who he or she used to be, almost like we need to remind them of their past so we look and feel better about ourselves because we’ve never made that choice or taken that path.
While black sheep are building new futures and thus bleaching their coats, we’re choosing to paint them black as if black is all they can be. We add to their bleaching efforts because we’re not ready to let go, we’re not ready to forgive, we’re not ready to move on.
The disgusting thing about black sheep syndrome is that everyone but the former black sheep has it. It sucks the life out of the former black sheep and everyone around him or her, and it wastes energy better spent encouraging the sheep to find the right environment for further bleaching the wool.
PS: Don’t bother exhibiting black sheep syndrome anywhere near me. Once a former black sheep has washed in the Blood of the Lamb, you’re seen as pure scarlet that covers over the blackest of unwise choices, and His Righteousness makes you so dazzling white that even white sheep look like anthracite coal.