"I can tell you don't dust your furniture as often as you should," a friend told me recently.
A few years ago, I probably would have severed our friendship over that comment. But despite the immediate urge to usher her out of my house—and my life—I smiled, shrugged, and said, "You're right. I didn't get around to dusting this week; I've been busy."
I call this response my "hold-your-peace" attitude. Why bother taking offense? I ask myself. Is this incident truly significant in my life? Generally, the insult doesn't merit becoming offended. Move on, I tell myself. Change subjects. Relax and get over it.
Moving from easily to rarely offended wasn't easy. I needed plenty of practice—and the realization getting over it isn't about forgiving the offender, but about not being offended in the first place.
Biting My Tongue
Like many people's, my life often revolved around offenses. I know a couple who departed my church after 15 years of attendance because they couldn't bear to worship in the same facility as their offender. I have friends who spent years estranged from loved ones over small offenses. And I, too, have been tempted to make life-altering decisions based on others' thoughtless remarks and actions.
Then, three years ago, I encountered this verse during daily devotions: "He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace" (Proverbs 11:12, NKJV). That verse nagged me; I knew I didn't require much provocation to start despising my "neighbor."1