“I think you’re racist….”
It didn’t matter that he was a stranger. And just because the accusation came through a Facebook message, it didn’t make it any easier to receive.
An assumption had been made based on our profile pictures.
He didn’t realize someone else had spoken for the free giveaway I listed in the Marketplace first.
Out of a wounded heart, hurtful words overflowed.
Like a bad sunburn – it stung initially and then the burn began to grow. Especially when he rated me as a bad “seller” although we’d made no such exchange.
My wounded heart wanted to volley back and put him in his place.
I had an arsenal of defensive words ready to type back to him – a stranger who’d so rudely labeled me in a fight I’ve committed my life to improve.
In the next thought, I planned to drop it and simply ignore his message and let it fade away.
But a familiar whisper encouraged me to press in:
“Learn what provoked this anger, and apologize.”
I typed back and explained the free items had been claimed, and I was sorry if I’d not thoroughly explained that in prior messages. I also shared I have a diverse family myself.
I probed a little more and learned he’d experienced a great deal of racism on the platform.
People who look like me have offered free items online only to rescind them once he reached out…
“Deal with it all the time,” he explained.
His replies carried scattered pieces of his story and they softened my heart.
I found myself apologizing for all of the racism he’s encountered. We ended up exchanging mutual “God bless” messages at the end of the short conversation and ended it on a good note.
It hurts to be falsely labeled and accused. The sting of assumption often makes us want to fight back or run away.
Yet Jesus modeled the way to approach a tense and heated situation.
He held his tongue.
He asked questions that led to understanding.
He built people up instead of tearing them down, leaving no room for disunity.
He offered tenderness, mercy and love.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26 NLT
How do I treat those who have unfairly labeled me? Am I defensive and argumentative – or do I seek to understand and find empathy?