What someone says about you behind your back says more about them than it does about you. How you respond when you find out says more about you than it does about them.
I have had to remind myself of those words multiple times throughout my life.
This week was no different.
I had several people tell me about an incident they witnessed where someone shared with a group of people how one of my actions from months ago was a poor choice in leadership.
I wasn’t called out by name as the event was shared, but the conversation got back to me nonetheless. A few familiar with the incident knew I was the person being discussed.
A fixer by nature, I wanted to call the offending person and discuss it. But I also recognized that no matter what I said, it wouldn’t fix the problem.
So instead, I reflected for personal growth.
I asked myself, “Why would this person do that instead of addressing their concern with me directly?” I pondered why I had left the incident in question thinking things were resolved and on the right path, and this individual had an entirely different perception.
The ironic part … on the morning the incident had occurred, I had shared the story without names with a group who was seeking advice on how to handle conflict. That evening, the other person shared the story with a different group about how it was a poor way to handle conflict. Neither knew we were both sharing the story that day with entirely different perspectives.
For two days I let it tug at my heartstrings and toy with my head. I replayed the original event over and over. The version of the story that got back to me was not my recollection of how things had happened. The heart of the complaint was missing key facts that contradicted the reason the person was upset over it to begin with.
As I prayed about the incident looking for peace, I was reminded of the words Jesus said as he hung on the cross.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
It would be easy for me to try and go to everyone and correct my side of the story, but those who shared it with me know my leadership style. A few even told me, “The fact this person thinks this was a problem is part of the problem.”
It would also be easy for me to proverbially write this incident down in a book and hold a grudge against the person. It would be easy for me to add it to the list of times this person has disappointed me. I could keep score.
But Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus forgives.
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive,” reads Colossians 3:13.
“Do not judge, or you too will bejudged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’,” reads Matthew 7:1-5.
I found peace with the situation.
Sometimes, we have to remember that people are human. We have to remember we all are broken.
I found the answer to my “why” as I pondered all of these things.
As I read my devotional this morning, these words came off the page … “Sometimes, we’re keeping a tally and creating a culture that demands perfection rather than gushing grace. We’re keeping that record of wrongs because it feeds that slight superiority over others, gives us a reason to guard that grudge, or hands us just cause to keep others at arm’s length.”
I would say the timing of those words is uncanny. But it’s not. When you ask God for wisdom, He always provides it.
In what ways do you hold grudges against others in an effort to make yourself feel superior to them? How has that destroyed your relationships?
Who might you owe an apology to so that you can start rebuilding a relationship with them?
How might keeping score in your relationships be keeping you from experiencing the love and peace you really long for?
How can you act more like Jesus and forgive those who don’t know what they do?
It starts with self-reflection, humility, and taking all of it to the Lord in prayer.