Have you ever been in a situation where someone wronged you and for the rest of that day (or week), all you could do was replay the situation in your head over and over again? And if you’re anything like me, you’d even find yourself listing all the things you could have said in that moment, but didn’t have the chance to. It’s as if the situation becomes a movie scene playing on an endless reel inside your head and each time the anticipated scene restarts, you give yourself a brand new script where you hit the villain with a couple of sharp comebacks and some major attitude; then you leave the scene feeling victorious. But sooner or later, reality kicks in. And you realize that the credits ended a long time ago and you’re the only one sitting in a room of empty theater seats. In other words, the situation is hurting you more than it’s hurting whoever wronged you. So much so, that everyone else has moved on and you’re the only one left dwelling on it. And let’s face it: no matter how many clever comebacks you can think of or how many new endings you can create in your head, it’s too late. The situation already passed; you simply can’t go back in time to that moment where you were wronged. So how do you look away from the screen, get up, and move on? Well, to answer this, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
Yesterday, I went to the store to buy a few things. As I was leaving the store, a familiar face walked towards me, grabbed me by my shoulder, and spewed out an accusation against me. I won’t go into too much detail, but this person accused me of always behaving rudely towards them and then they threatened me. I simply stood there frozen, unable to even utter a word. I was so shocked and so hurt that this person could even approach me in such a rude way, stare me down, and say these false things about me right to my face! I walked away in confusion and anger and my vibe was completely thrown off for the rest of that day.
When I explained the situation to a friend, I was literally in tears. Not because I had a guilty conscience (I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong to this person), but because I’m a sensitive person. I don’t like when people yell at me or speak to me in a stern manner. And when this person had done just that, and had spoken wrongly about my character, it hurt. Deeply. Not to mention the fact that this person publicly humiliated me at a store entrance, where shoppers were present nearby. I am not a person who enjoys drama or confrontation, so I didn’t understand why this particular person wanted to drag me into trouble. I asked my friend, “How do I grow thicker skin? I don’t like being this sensitive. I’m always quick to feel things and quick to cry. I want to be stronger, but how?” I knew she couldn’t actually answer me because growing thick skin is easier said than done. There isn’t a foolproof tutorial out there titled “How to Grow Thick Skin” or some 5-day training course that covers desensitization. If there was, I’d be the first to sign up.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I embrace my emotional, sensitive heart, but yesterday, I found myself wishing that I wasn’t such a softie. As I sat and complained on my friend’s couch, a light switched on in my head, and I suddenly thought to myself, “How silly of me! Should I really wish God had created me differently just because of the way that one person made me feel today?” When I explained how I was feeling to my friend, she told me that I shouldn’t let anyone have that much control over me. And she was right. I knew this was the enemy trying to bring me down and I couldn’t let any thoughts from the enemy consume me. I wiped the tears away, lifted my head up, and remembered that God doesn’t make mistakes. There is a reason He created me to feel as much as I do and to be as emotional as I am. Maybe my big, sensitive heart is the reason I can sympathize with people and comfort them when they’re down. Maybe my sensitive character is what leads my friends to ask me for thoughtful advice. And maybe this emotional heart of mine is the reason why I can share my testimony with others- tears and all- even if it hurts.
Sensitivity is not weakness; it’s strength. Think of it this way: imagine someone who had a heart so big that no matter how many times you cursed at him, called him names, spit on him, or wrongly accused him, he never pulled out a script of sharp comebacks or showed you attitude. And yet, somehow, he still walked away from the scene victorious. Does that sound familiar?
Jesus Christ was not out looking for trouble, but it followed Him anyway because it was all a part of God’s plan. Jesus could have torn apart people’s characters (and rightfully so) each time He was confronted because He knew His accusers more than they knew themselves. He could have made them feel worthless by revealing their dirty secrets out in public, but Jesus never responded that way. Jesus faced the worst confrontations possible, but He didn’t let these situations consume Him. He always chose to respond in peace; He didn’t encourage harmful words or threats. Instead, He loved and prayed for his accusers. And on the cross, He asked God to forgive them. In tricky situations where people wrong us, God teaches us to react in the following way:
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9
In order to repay evil with blessing, you’re going to need a sensitive heart. In times like these, God is not asking for us to grow thick skin or slap on an “I don’t care” attitude: He’s asking us to dig deeper than that. He’s asking us to love. There are times where we need to peel back the thick layers of skin and reveal the blood that we all bleed. Doing so will remind us that we’re all humans, including our enemies. We all make mistakes because none of us are perfect. Now, loving your enemy is not easy; you’re going to need to find a soft spot. And if you’re already a softie (like I am), it makes the task of loving those who hurt you that much easier.
So back to the original question: when you find yourself in that empty theater and you’re replaying that scene where someone wronged you, how do you look away from the screen and move on?
You pull a Jesus and flip the script.