Although I hadn't yet spent much time with her, I admired "Sarah." I could learn a lot from her, since I was a new missionary and she'd served overseas for years. She was energetic, decisive, resourceful, and confident. Most importantly, she loved the Lord and wanted to make her life count for eternity.
I can't remember exactly when my feelings toward Sarah began to change, but as the weeks progressed, I grew increasingly uncomfortable around her. She presented her opinions at our team Bible study forcefully, the polar opposite of my style. She often spoke with such authority and conviction that it left no room for disagreement.
I felt that I had only had two options in responding to Sarah. I could rip her idea apart in front of the others in the group (something I didn't want to do) or else silently disagree with her. I inevitably opted for the second choice.
The crux of the problem
I hate conflict, so I tried to ignore the problem rather than talk with Sarah about my feelings. That tactic caused me to carry my silent protestations far beyond our meetings. I brooded for days about what she'd said, as well as the way she said it. As time went on, I found myself sinking into increasingly deeper turmoil.
I knew Sarah was God's child and someone for whom Jesus died. I felt I shouldn't criticize her, either to others (like my husband, who had to put up with me talking about how she'd hurt me) or to God.
I decided just to forgive her for the way she—unintentionally—plowed over me verbally and emotionally. Rather than experiencing the peace God gives when we forgive someone, though, I was filled with guilt because the negative feelings I had toward her didn't disappear.1