There’s a flip side to intention. We all know it, feel it, fall into it, fall foul of it. This intention that I speak of is the intent of the heart behind a word, an action, a comment, a deliberate act. I’m pretty sure you have at least once been offended by something or offended someone. I have countless times. My thinking is this, if the heart that the word, or action, or comment, or deliberate act came from was inclined towards your good, then its unfair at best, to be offended by it. What do you think?
The problem then is how do I decipher intent? How do you know what is truly in someone’s heart in that moment. Sometimes it’s easy, especially with someone you know well, or be around frequently. You can observe patterns of behaviour, so if they say or do something thoughtlessly you will know its out of character and hopefully be gracious enough to believe the best and choose not to be offended. And yes I did say choose. The close people in my life are those whose hearts should be most visible to me, and yet they are the ones that I’m most quick to be offended by. I get that it’s the investment, the feeling of greater betrayal when someone I love appears to speak words, or act in a way that’s not for my good, but why am I so quick to assume that their heart is inclined against me and not for me? Surely those hearts that are closest to mine I should judge most accurately and graciously. I know its the past that causes the greatest obstacle to my discernment. My tender heart has a memory like an elephant. If I’ve been wronged deliberately before, then my heart remembers. It takes mighty will power on my behalf to wipe the slate of my heart clean. Will power or more like the knowledge that I’ve been forgiven much (grace power as I like to call it) that helps me forgive and makes me forget, and yet it feels even when I do manage to forgive, like there’s still a dent left behind on my heart.
If it’s someone we don’t know well and its not an obvious deliberate act to hurt or offend us, then why do we bother being offended. Honestly if we have to search and try to discern the intention of a less significant person’s action towards us, should it warrant our offence?
I don’t want my heart to be like an elephant with those I love. Wisdom tells me to forgive, forget and choose to believe the best in the hearts of those I love and who love me. As for all the other many, many incidences where I could choose to be offended, my intention is to try very hard to let them go. If its deliberate I’ll acknowledge the offence, work it through, forgive, and move on. If it falls into the grey area of unsure, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t then God give me grace, the grace to let it go.
I long to dwell in a grace-filled, forgiveness-fuelled, discernment-driven place where my heart is a perpetual clean slate.