|I would like to tell you I responded by taking the high road and was a model of maturity. But to be honest, I became slightly unhinged.
Years ago, an old colleague accused me of gossiping behind her back. It wasn’t a soft accusation, either; it was bitter, hurtful and destructive. She sent me vicious messages on social media and began attacking my reputation.
This was the first time I’d experienced a false accusation, my first time being blamed for something I was entirely innocent of doing, and the first time my name was dragged through the mud.
I actually typed up about 25 versions of vicious retorts (which thankfully the Lord nudged me to delete before sending). I vented for days, cried, lost sleep. I made up imaginary conversations with this woman, including all of the witty things I would say to put her in her proper place. Then I enacted these conversations … aloud … in my car … by myself … like the dignified woman of God that I am.
This continued until I realized how much power I was giving this injustice. I was allowing it to steal my joy, creativity, thought life, prayer life and disposition. On top of it all, I completely lost perspective. In my mind, I turned this woman into a villain, rather than a human being who was likely walking through some hardship herself.
I neglected to feel or show compassion, refusing to see her as a woman created in the image of God, who needs Jesus as much as I do, who needs her pain alleviated just like anyone else.
The book of Lamentations resonates with me, because in it, we find Jeremiah crying out to God on behalf of people who have continually rejected, ridiculed and rebuked him.
Jeremiah’s laments are rugged and oh so real. But somehow, in the midst of his raw pain, he still chooses to show compassion to the same folks who push him away.
Instead of nursing a wounded ego, Jeremiah focuses outward, passionately advocating for his nation. The prophet laments the pain of others while continually surrendering his own fear, worry and suffering to the Lord.
Jeremiah never succumbs to the burning urge to defend his personal reputation (nor for that matter, have ridiculous imaginary conversations in his car).
Whatever relational difficulty you’re facing right now, you can adopt the same attitude as Jeremiah, which says, “Do not fear. God is near. He will take up my case. God’s got this.”
The undeserved compassion God has shown us in Jesus can empower us to follow Jeremiah’s example and show others — especially those who haven’t earned it — that same supernatural compassion.
It’s unlikely I’ll ever become BFFs with my accuser. In fact, one way I protect my heart is to maintain healthy boundaries with her. Still, I can choose compassion for her and ask God to open my eyes to her pain. I can pray for her and lament with her.
And I can have hope that somehow, God’s giant, compassionate love is enough to uphold both our causes.
If you’re hurting today, remember this truth: God draws near to those who call on Him. (James 4:8) He removes our fear. He invades the most difficult situations with His unstoppable hope. God is at work renewing all things — even our relational pain. And He mercifully transforms us in the midst of these trials.
God sings a louder song than any difficulty we face — a song of renewal, restoration and never-failing compassion.
Dear God, I praise You for Your compassion. Thank You for being near when I feel brokenhearted. I confess sometimes I’m tempted to give into pettiness or fear when I’m offended. Grant me the grace and strength to have compassion on all those around me and walk without fear, trusting that You take up my cause. Thank You for seeing me and singing Your louder song over the noise of my pain. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.