How many times have you said something and it seemed to be taken in a way you did not mean? How many times have you done something and it led to results you did not intend?
You know what I’m talking about right? The moment when everyone is laughing and having a good time and then you make a joke about someone. Next you know the record stops and every eye in the room is immediately gazing at you with great disdain? That’s the time.
Just last night my wife and I were joking around and I said something that totally crushed her. At first I didn’t understand because it was done in the spirit of joking. But, after I saw how much it hurt her I had to tell myself, “Joseph, shut up and quit justifying yourself. The point is she is hurt.”
Regardless of your intentions, if you hurt the other person the fact is she is hurt. Of course, if you did not do it on purpose you want her to understand so you naturally try to explain why you said what you said, why you did what you did, or what you were thinking while you said it or did it; all in hopes she will understand you did not mean it the way she took it.
Pointless. Useless. And, heartless.
When you hurt someone, no matter what your intentions were, you have to show you genuinely care by dealing with the hurt. How it came about is a topic for later discussion. But, the delicate question at hand is someone you sincerely love is feeling emotionally alienated from you, what are you going to do about it?
I often error on the side of trying to get my wife to understand what I said was not meant in the way she took it. While my intentions to explain may be good, it simply comes off as a self-righteous justification of defense.
To her, and rightly so, I’m simply trying to prove to her why her feelings are not valid, why she should not be feeling the way she feels, why she should not feel hurt… Big mistake. I might as well shout, “Your feelings are worthless!”
When someone is hurt, whether it is your spouse, friend, co-worker, parent, or boss, what you meant does not matter. What matters is how you demonstrate selfless love by empathizing with his heart. We all have cords that strike to our core. We all have jokes that will pierce the deepest and most tender realms of our heart.
However, it’s genuine, selfless love that helps recognize when you have struck such a place in another. It’s sincere concern for the other that compels you to immediate apology and empathy. It’s not about your intentions, it’s about love.
Good intentions often lead us to hurtful acts without us knowing it. What counters this is not an explanation of the good intentions, but good actions that follow and help bring healing to wounded heart.
Let’s Do It Together?
When you hurt someone without intending to, how do you initially respond?