Thursday, November 09, 2006

Anger and forgiveness

I've been avoiding my blog. Most of the time when I avoid it, it's because I have something better going on. This time, however, it's because I have a need to record something unpleasant, and I hadn't really worked it all out until today. This post is personal and probably boring, so casual readers are excused from reading. :o)

On Sunday night at Bible study, a woman in the group made an incredibly rude comment about me to my friend Carla. I overheard, sort of, and I thought that she was making a comment to me rather than about me. Since I didn't quite catch what she said, I asked her to repeat it. She did. Loud enough for everyone on our side of the room to hear.

At first I was simply stunned. Then I was angry. At best, this person was a casual aquaintence, and truthfully, that's stretching it. And yet, she made a stinging comment about my life to my friend, then to at least a part of the class.

This happened just before our opening prayer, and I spent the few minutes in prayer trying to catch hold of my anger and focus. It simply wasn't enough time for me, and just after prayer, I excused myself and left. I spent class time in prayer instead. I'm glad that I did. It was much better for me to have spent the time in prayer, rather than in class where I would have been seething and not listening.

Afterward, I was waiting for Skeeter and the children, and Carla passed by. She knew that I was angry about the comment, and she knew that was why I had left. We are actually between studies at the moment, and none of us knew the topic for the evening. I found out from Carla that the study for the evening had ended up being an "extra" study that the leader had decided to do -- about hurting others with thoughtless words and/or actions.

How timely.

The woman found me and apologized afterward, whether it was at Carla's urging or due to the class topic. I will admit, I wasn't nice. I was polite, and while "polite" and "nice" are not mutually exclusive, they are most definitely not the same thing. To her, "I'm sorry. I didn't know you were upset," I replied, "Your comment was rude, judgemental, and distasteful, and it hurt my feelings. But thank you for your apology." I was dismissive, and I shouldn't have been. But at the time, I was still angry and hurt.

Considering her expression when she walked away, I think that she was expecting me to say, "It's okay. I forgive you." It wasn't okay though, and at the time, I hadn't truly forgiven her. I would have been lying if I had said that. I already had "anger" on my list of sins. I didn't want to add "lying though my teeth."

Since then, I've spent lots of time praying about it, and I have forgiven her, but that still doesn't make it "okay." Saying it was "okay" would have validated her comment. How can I, as a Christian, say "I have forgiven you" while also explaining that she should consider curbing her tongue? She is absolutely entitled to her opinion, but she does not give it in the spirit of love. That's what I want to express to her, and I haven't figured out a way to do it without seeming spiteful of being on the receiving end of her barbs.

I found out just today that this woman has a habit of making scathing comments.

To a woman who had recently given birth: "Have you gained weight? Those jeans make your butt look fat."

To my friend Brenda: "Not to be rude, but your daughter needs a lesson on sharing."

To a child at a birthday party (who was asking for a piece of cake): "You need to get back. You don't look like you need those extra calories anyway."

Obviously, the comment to me was not an isolated incident. Lately my prayers have been about how to talk to her about her need to insult others. She is a relatively new Christian, and I do think that she needs to be Scripturally reprimanded for her behavior. I'm just not sure that I'm the one to do it.

1 comment:

Julie said...

oh dear. Sorry to hear about this... it's a difficult position to be in. There are lots of scriptures (particularly in James 3) about how we should speak... maybe you could refer her to those?