Love does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Have you ever found yourself suddenly sidetracked by little offenses?
Recently, when I was on the phone with a friend, I found myself suddenly feeling offended by little things she was saying. Now that I think about it and try to recall the conversation, I don't even remember what she said that bothered me so. But suddenly every little thing she said seemed to insult me, wound me, cause me to question.
I was being tooky.
And before I knew it I'd popped off and said something defensive.
I could tell she was shocked. Where had that come from?
It came from my need to self preserve. It came from ultra-sensitivity. And it was ugly.
The Bible tells us that love does not get offended easily. Love is not "sensitive" and tooky.
That means that love also does not over analyze, over think the things said. Love does not look for the other person to trip up on their words and then point an accusing finger. Love does not have its feelings hurt easily. Love does not piece together things said or done here and there to build some sort of case against the other person. Love does not assume the motives of the other person. Love does not read into things.
Have you ever been guilty of any of those things? Obviously I have. But the Lord has reprimanded me for such unloving behavior. And He's shown me that reacting with ultra-sensitivity is not only damaging to my relationships, but it's a sin. Being overly sensitive and easily offended puts other people on edge, but it also puts me first. That is not godly behavior.
How can we keep from being easily offended and sensitive? Here are a few things the Lord has shown me recently that have helped me to love more easily:
- Listen to what the person is saying, not to what you are feeling. When my husband, my child, my friend is telling me about their situation or predicament or feelings, I need to listen to what they are saying without involving myself in it. Stop listening with "how does this affect me?" or "what does this say about me?" in mind. It's usually not about me at all.
- Give grace in communication. Realize that few of us, no, none of us, manage to say exactly what we mean to say or want to say most of the time. We all stumble over our words and thoughts. And when we are talking matters of the heart, it's even harder to communicate accurately. So I need to graciously remember that the other person is trying their best to communicate things that are sometimes hard to wrap words around. And I need to be grateful that they're even trying.
- Ask the appropriate questions. If I think I hear something that doesn't set well with me, it's better to ask for clarification than to make assumptions. But even as I ask clarifying questions, I need to be careful to keep "the edge" out of my attitude and voice.
- Refuse to make assumptions. If I begin to read into the other person's words, I need to stop right there, realize that I'm making unfair assumptions based on limited information, and choose to "bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7) instead.
- Take any hurt feelings to the Lord first. If someone does say something that just stays with me and stings a little, I can take my wounds to the Lord first. Often, in prayer, He is able to show me the truth behind the words spoken without me even having to approach the person about it. And more often than not I realize, in His calming presence, that I had no real reason to be offended.
Have you allowed little things - words spoken carelessly, facial expressions, body language, words not spoken - to offend you recently? I encourage you to read over 1 Corinthians 13 and approach the wounded relationship from a renewed desire to love well. Let me know what you think!
Labels: friendship, grace, love, relationships