She thought I had laughed at her mistake and was geared up to change her whole opinion of me and start resenting me. How grateful I am that she cared enough to call me on it.
Last Monday as I was leaving my weekly Bible study, a sweet friend stopped me on the sidewalk and said, “You WERE laughing WITH me and not AT me, weren’t you?” My puzzled look and awkward laugh must have led her to say more. “This morning as I was sharing about my friend,” she went on, “I unintentionally mispronounced her name. When I did that, I looked up and you were laughing. It seemed to me that you were laughing at my mistake.”
Wow. What a sobering reminder of how quickly our actions can be misconstrued and cause damaged relationships!!
In fact, before our Bible study got fully underway that morning, the room was abuzz with women chattering. Are Baptist women the only ones who chatter? Ha! I was sitting near the back of the room beside my friend Dianne. We share several common traits — about the same age, both retired with retired husbands, both love travel, both are grandmothers, both have sons in the ministry, etc. etc. So, we were spending a few minutes getting caught up and laughing at our almost-constant Family Circus-type moments. In my peripheral vision, I noticed that a conversation was going on in the front of the room, but I confess that I wasn’t paying attention and had no idea what that conversation was about. You guessed it. My offended friend was in the front of the room involved in that “peripheral” conversation.
I sincerely hope my offended friend accepted my explanation and believed me. She has always been very dear to me and has consistently said and written such encouraging words to me when we’ve passed in church or in response to Facebook posts, etc. It would break my heart to know that she might harbor anger or ill feelings toward me, especially because of something as innocent as a laugh completely out of context.
I’ve thought a lot about the encounter this week.
How many times have I mistaken a frown, a non-answer, a time of feeling ignored or even a laugh as being aimed in my direction maliciously or with hurtful motives? When have I jumped to the wrong conclusions and not had the courage to dig deeper to find out what REALLY happened and why?
Have any of you experienced a broken relationship over an innocent word/gesture that was misinterpreted?
Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
Ephesians 4:2-3 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.“
Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.