Carl called me aside after Sunday school class. "You haven't seen much of Pete lately, have you?" he asked. Before I responded, he said, "I thought you ought to know that you offended him by something you said."
"Offended him?" I wondered what I could have done.
"One Sunday he tried to get into the church office and the door was locked. You came by and said, "That's the first time I ever saw you trying to get inside the church."
I recalled the incident. Pete had joked about the pastor not being able to get to church early enough to unlock his office.
"I was only kidding him," I told Carl.
"That's the way Pete is." He told me several tales of Pete's touchiness.
"How did you find out he was offended?"
"He told his brother-in-law who told Bill, and Bill told me."
Typical story. Someone gets offended and by the time the information gets to me, it's been filtered through at least three other people.
The conversation bothered me. I'd hurt someone, even though unintentionally. I reviewed the conversation in my mind, but I couldn't understand how anyone could have misconstrued the conversation. Yet Pete had.
"He ought to have come to me," I mumbled to myself. I heard the words echo back, "He ought to …"
Later that day, I grumbled to God. "I'm tired of innocent remarks getting twisted around and ending in hurt feelings. Why am I supposed to reconcile? People don't seem disturbed when they hurt my feelings. If Pete had been hurt, he was the one responsible to tell me."
I couldn't leave things like that. Likely Pete had intended for the information to reach me that he was hurt. Although I felt I'd done nothing wrong, the fact remained: Pete had been offended.1