Monday, August 24, 2009

Thinking before plunging in

I often battle with the idea of thinking before speaking. My mouth is permanently stretched from all the times it's had my foot inserted. And lately, it's one of the things God's been working hard with me on.

There's a particular person in my life known for her rude and negative comments. In the past, when I've responded, the results haven't been pretty, and somehow, she ends up being the victim even though the only thing I'd done was defend myself against her. So I've stopped responding. The barbs get ignored, and I try to pray grace over her. To be honest, it's really hard. I don't understand why God allows this person to continue to get away with being so mean and unkind. Why does she get grace when I get stomped on?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Turn the other cheek and all that. Someday it'll make sense. But it sure doesn't do much to ease the hurt over things she says.

So today, in a seemingly unrelated incident on Facebook, someone posts a mean comment about one of my pictures. Now, I don't know this person. Based on her profile, I believe we're "friends" because we belong to some of the same groups and have other friends in common. But I don't know her. So here's this mean comment about me, and I'm thinking, "who are you, and why are you being so mean?"

My initial thought was that I was going to send her a note to say, "I don't know why you posted such an unkind thing. I don't know you, and I'd appreciate it if you have some problem with me to address it privately, rather than through public meanness."

I started thinking about it some more. Read everything on her profile to try to figure out who she was and why she would say such a thing. Maybe it was a joke. So I waited for the punchline. Nothing. I continued looking at her profile, trying to figure out what to do. She appeared to be a Christian. She seemed like a nice person. Why would she say something so mean? Maybe she didn't know it was mean. Maybe she had a problem with me that I didn't know about. I redrafted my response in my head. And I prayed some more.

I felt a lot like I do when the negative person in my life is unkind to me. And I really felt like God was asking me to give this new person grace. And again, it kinda made me mad. Why do other people get to get away with saying whatever's on their mind, but I have to keep it all inside?

So I said nothing. Did nothing. Deleted the rude comment and left it at that. A couple hours later, I logged back on and this person had updated, apologizing profusely to people in general because her account had been hacked. I thought about how she must feel, the victim of a hacker, to have an inbox full of emails from people. Even though I certainly wasn't mean in what I wanted to say, it probably would have added to the frustration she was feeling.

That got me thinking about the very real mean person in my life. I honestly don't know why she's so mean to me. I could hazard a few guesses, but they don't really matter. I do know she's hurting. I know her life isn't as perfect as the image she likes to put out there.

I didn't understand why God kept me from saying something to the crazy Facebook lady today until later... until after my thoughtless words could have made a difficult day even more difficult for her. Given the longstanding nature of how my conflict with this other person has been, I can't even imagine what is really happening behind the scenes. What I do understand is that I have to be patient with whatever process God has going on... even though it's really hard. Because I don't understand. And in the meantime, I'm being pelted with a lot of ugliness that I can't do anything about. Except trust. And pray


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