He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)
Part of my morning routine includes stumbling out to the barn to feed horses. After they get their feed, I take the fly sheet off my horses that I affectionately refer to as his jammies. He is very allergic to the sand gnats which eat him alive at night. So, I cover his body and his neck with a mesh blanket and his face with a fly mask. It is easier for me to slip it off while he is eating because if I try to do it before he gets his food, he won’t stand still. Of course, he contently stays in one place while gobbling his breakfast, and I can unbuckle the belly and leg straps and the fasteners on this chest and neck. Today, the bugs were still bad as I tried to “undress” him. He fidgeted and stomped his feet, and one of those feet came down solidly on my right foot. I’m surprised my screams didn’t wake my neighbors because it hurt, really, really bad. One thousand pounds pressed into my foot equals excruciating pain. Once I pushed him away so he would shift his weight and move off my foot, I immediately burst into tears. I could hardly walk and my toe was numb and tingly. When I got back to the house, I realized the toe nail was even bleeding. There was nothing to do, but tape it up and put my feet in my sneaker before it started to swell. I tried to keep my foot up as much as possible all day, but when I got home, my toes were bruised and stiff. Trucker really did a number on my toes. Sometimes, people step on my toes, too. They say or do something that offends me. My Sunday School teacher always says, “No offense taken if no offense intended.” In other words, I don’t need to get huffy or angry if the person who has gotten my back up didn’t intend to hurt my feelings. I try very hard to remember that advice. This week, I have witnessed an incredible example of grace and refusal to take offense. Someone I know went out of their way to do something terribly mean to another person I know. Even though the offense was deliberate, the person who was wronged refused to take it personally. They outlined the reasons understanding the difficulties causing the offender behaved so poorly. Without even being asked, forgiveness was offered that in my not so humble opinion was not deserved. However, it was not my opinion that mattered and I bit my tongue in the face of a loving attitude that reflected Christ in a way that is not usually seen on this earth. While I struggle to forgive and forget when the slight is unintentional, here was someone forgiving an intentional and deliberate insult. Even as I nurse my aching toe, I marvel at my friend’s resilience and refusal to take offense. Truly, Christlike love in action.