Choosing to Let it Go
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. Ecclesiastes 7:21
Most of us have been there. We’ve said something nasty about a friend or coworker and they either overheard it or someone told them. Our words were perhaps true, but they weren’t kind, and they certainly weren’t meant for that person to hear.
We’ve been on the other side too. We’ve overheard something unkind about us. Again, it may be true, and it may be something we’ve said about ourselves, but for someone else to say it, is just mean. We are offended, and we answer evil with more evil.
This is a natural response, but in today’s passage, Solomon suggests that we should choose to do the unnatural. He insists that when we hear someone speak poorly of us, we should be mature enough to realize how often we’ve done this – a lot – and we should choose to let it go.
But I can’t help being hurt! I’m offended! I can’t just let that go. My offense may be justified in my mind, and it certainly may be a natural response, but that does not make it the right thing to do. My natural response is often the wrong one. My offense is usually just a symptom of a wounded pride, which exposes my greatest addiction: me.
We all have annoying traits about which others will always talk. In our egocentricity though, we imagine ourselves to be the only ones in the universe about whom this is not true. Then, when our fantasy is shattered by an unkind word, we are offended and dive deeper into our self-addiction.
If we want to live in misery, angst and constant conflict with those around us, we may certainly allow nature to take its course, being offended by everyone and everything. If, however, we want to follow God instead of ourselves and if we want to embrace life, joy and peace, we must often choose to let it go.