Wise person lets insult fall by the wayside – Terry Pluto

Ever spend days mentally replaying a conversation?

Or nights staring at the ceiling, thinking about something said to you, and then coming up with all the clever and sarcastic things you wanted to say but couldn’t think of at the time?

Are you easily offended?

I can be, especially when the insults come from a person I don’t like. A good friend will receive patience and grace, but a family member or someone who consistently bugs me – I’m almost looking for a reason to get upset.

“But I really can’t offend you,” said Bishop Joey Johnson of Akron’s House of the Lord. “I may say something that bothers you. I may say something that is just plain wrong. But how you feel and react to what I said is up to you.”

Based on that, I know I’m in trouble when I start telling friends, “I can’t believe he said that to me! That’s really offensive.”

When I say that, I’m actually taking a fence.

Imagine walking down a nar row road and coming to a small, rusty fence. I can walk around the fence. Or perhaps I can run a few steps and jump over it. While the fence is annoying, I just need a few minutes to deal with it and then leave it behind.

Now picture me picking up the fence and carrying the rusty metal around for a few days. I show it to friends so they can see how this stupid fence was right there, trying to hold me up. The longer I carry the fence, the heavier it becomes. I spend even more time obsessing about it. I seek out more people so they can see how the fence – now, my fence – torments me.

“You can’t really blame me for how you feel,” Johnson said. “Feelings are real. They need to be dealt with. But they are our feelings.”

Think of a stressed mother who comes home from work, spills milk while taking care of her daughter and screams at the 5-year-old, “Look what you made me do!” While the child may have been whining and possibly even screaming, she didn’t dump the liquid on the kitchen floor. The mother did.

Perhaps you are dealing with an adult sibling who has lost another job. Your brother blames everyone but himself. In the process, he is making you feel guilty because you have a decent career.

But is he causing your guilt? Really?

How about the adult sister who has the great family? She goes on and on about her wonderful life, knowing that you are going through a divorce and making you feel as if you’re a failure. She may believe she’s just telling you what’s happening in her life, but you believe she’s putting you down at a time that your life is falling apart.

Another minefield for me is when I start complaining, “She always . . . ” or “He never . . .”

That means I’m attacking the person, not dealing with the subject.

“I believe no one can hurt my feelings as much as they hurt my pride,” said Joe Coffey, a pastor at Hudson Community Chapel. “We often are more angry at the person who said it for a variety of reasons, rather than by what the person actually said.”

It can be toxic. Coffey said to concentrate on forgiving the person rather than being stuck on what was said, why it was said and what we wished we had said to shut the person up.

Proverbs 12:16 reads, “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”

Not easy to do, but carrying it around is even harder.

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