Lara and I went to Solvang this past weekend. It was fun. We stopped at Ostrich Land and fed some of those goofy looking creatures (you can watch a video I made of it here). Whenever I go away, outside of my “world” I usually find myself thinking about some issue in my life (going away does that).
This trip it was: “I’m getting really tired of people making comments about my hair.” (Pink: “They don’t get my hair”)
It bothers me, but the thing is it’s unrealistic to expect that people will stop doing that. It just is. Even the nicest people on the planet will offend me at times.
When I was in college – studying to be a youth pastor, hanging out with good “Christian” guys – we were on a trip doing some team-building stuff. I don’t really remember the specific activity, but our class of about 20 people were each taking turns acting out different scenes. Now, I’m not a good actor and on top of that I’m quite timid. It came to be my turn and I was supposed act out being in a movie theater. In all of my subpar glory and in complete timidity I awkwardly said, “Mmm, good popcorn,” while motioning as if I was feeding myself.
That description doesn’t quite do that situation justice, but I can tell you that it was followed by a whole lot of laughter at my expense. I was beyond embarrassed.
Some of these people were very close friends and I felt like they were laughing and pointing fingers at me, letting me know how stupid I was. It actually wasn’t until years later that I realized they weren’t laughing at me personally as if to attack me. They were laughing at my poor acting, which I can admit is true.
My question for us then is this: How do we survive it? If this stuff is bound to happen, how do we go about resolving these moments so as not to hurt others?
Two initial thoughts, followed by some specific application:
- Am I too timid or afraid of ‘me’ that I take things personally?
-Tip: Learn not to take offense when it isn’t intended to offend
However, this can be difficult because we all could answer ‘yes’ to the second thought:
- Are there people in my life who actually do attack viciously (intentionally try to hurt me)?
-Tip: Rethink your friends/Remove yourself from bad situations (when in your control)
So then, what this means for us:
- There are situations where someone might take offense to something that wasn’t offensive; it wasn’t intended to hurt them (i.e. my friends laughing at my acting; making a comment about my hair).
– Be sensitive to how others may respond to what you say/do
– If you are offended by someone (victim), talk to leadership/the other person, lovingly about it
– If you were the offender, make it right (apologize/respond lovingly)
– This should be easy to do because you have a positive attitude: didn’t intend to hurt, it just happened
Closely related, but a little different…
- There are situations where you might hurt someone because what you said/did really was offensive; but again, it wasn’t intended to hurt them (i.e. you say, “you’re a really bad actor” or, “why do you style your hair like that?”).
– This one is tough and requires great humility to correct (maybe you need to have more experience with these situations to really get this)
– Same rules as the first, but requires a deeper need to be aware of your actions
– This might be tough to do because you have a poor attitude: focused on what you think is funny/etc rather than the other person
- There are situations where you might intentionally try to hurt others (you’re beyond just accidentally saying/doing something offensive, you mean it).
– This is not a place to intentionally hurt others
– Don’t treat others like how people treat others at school (that is a place where mean behavior is modeled)
– If you do, don’t come here (would encourage you to still meet with a leader though)
– This moves beyond a poor attitude to a bad one: you aim to hurt
I struggle with a message like this because it’s easy to say, difficult to live. Really, this falls back on you. Will you choose to be someone that cares for others by being aware of how your actions are affecting them? Wouldn’t it be cool if at Renew we all cared for others in this way?
Leaders: we need to model this and be all over it (lovingly) when we see it happening
Next week we’ll move beyond some ground rules and look at what the Bible has to say about all of this. I would encourage you to talk with your small group and at home about it all. Remember, it’s up to you to apply these things to your life.