I think we all might know her. We walk on eggshells around her. We weigh our words carefully so that she won’t be annoyed with us. We are a little reluctant to be around her because we never know when we might accidentally provoke her. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to go places with her, because she might be short-tempered with a waitress who (she thinks) is too slow or a store clerk who (she thinks) isn’t polite enough. Offended, annoyed, hurt, resentful, irritated, miffed, insulted, indignant, wounded. All of those words might describe her on any given day.
I have a hard question now. Is it possible that she is…me?
I know, I know—that’s inconceivable, right? But let’s stop and think about some indicators that might suggest that we are overly sensitive or easily offended. Is there someone you’re avoiding or not speaking to because that person offended you? Is it possible that your social media posts passive-aggressively hint about your irritations? You may have (consciously or unconsciously) excluded someone from your circle of friends. Maybe your body language conveys your displeasure with a simple turn of the head or a proverbial nose in the air. How much brain space is occupied by a search for the perfect “clap back” to someone you’ve disagreed with? You might not be outwardly confrontational, yet you may radiate a noticeable air of irritation. I’ll admit, this has been a personal struggle. Years ago, as a teen, I saw a candid photograph that happened to catch me with a very visible look of disdain on my face. I knew who I was looking at, and it was embarrassing to discover how transparent my feelings were.
The truth is, if we are clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness and love (Col. 3:12-14) our sleeves simply won’t have room for our feelings. Living and walking by the Spirit leads to the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). As difficult as it is to believe that negative tendencies are in us, we have to honestly consider the enmity (hostility), strife (quarrels), fits of anger (indignation), disputes (strife and selfishness) or dissensions (which one lexicon defines as “a standing apart”) that we so casually allow in our hearts. God is very clear that if we practice those things, we “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Gal. 5:21). If we say that we belong to Christ—and if you are a Christian, you have publicly declared that you do—then our aim will be to crucify those things in us that are against His will.
If you have these tendencies, here are some things to think about: I can choose not to be annoyed if someone hurts my feelings. Maybe they didn’t mean to hurt me. Maybe they have a different way of expressing themselves. Maybe they have a different background, or a weird sense of humor. Maybe they’ve had a terrible day. Maybe they misunderstood me, or didn’t hear me. Maybe no one has ever loved them. Maybe no one has ever told them that God does. (Have I told them?) Maybe, just maybe, I am the one who isn’t being super nice to them. Or maybe they did mean to hurt me. Maybe they just aren’t nice. Still, I can make a choice to return good for evil, to maintain control of my own thoughts and hearts instead of giving control to them. Though not simple, it truly is a matter of training and redirecting our minds. God said that we must “with humility of mind regard one another as more important” than ourselves, looking out “for the interests of others” and not just our own (Phil. 2:3-4).
Don’t be “her”. Instead, be a woman of God, not wearing your feelings on your sleeve. Control your feelings, and wear kindness, tenderness, humility and forgiveness. It’s beautiful, and it’s biblical!