Have you ever been let down by a friend or family member? Have you ever wondered what was going on in a loved one's head when they did that thing that was so hurtful? Of course you have! Every human on the planet has experienced those same feelings!
But how should we react when that happens? It's easy to assume the worst- that they don't care about us or maybe even were trying to hurt us- but this is the wrong way to think about it.
Be On Their Side
Friends and family members love us. They are there for us and have our backs (if we have surrounded ourselves with good ones). Let's not forget that fact.
Sure, it hurts when they don't have time for us, or say something rude- but did they really mean anything by it? Honestly, most of the time, we are probably blowing it way out of proportion.
-So what if they cancelled plans; they were probably really sorry to miss out!
Don't assume that they are cancelling because they don't care about you as much anymore. Chances are, the still love you just as much and wish they could hang out.
-So what if your cousin made a comment that made you feel self-conscious; she probably meant nothing by it. She probably wasn't even talking about you.
We've picked our friends and continue to spend time with our family for a reason: We like them. We trust them. We enjoy them.
So why is it that the second anything is said or done that hurts our feelings, we assume the worst? We need to start believing in our loved one's and giving them the benefit of the doubt.
What does God say?
The Bible talks a lot about living at peace with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3 says:
...walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.To me, this verse is a huge reason for giving people the benefit of the doubt. If we are overly sensitive, always assuming that those we love are "anti-us", then how can we also be humble, patient, and loving? We can't do both. Giving the benefit of the doubt often goes hand-in-hand with peace-keeping.
And let's take it a step further- what if our loved one did mean to hurt us?
Well, I think (at least at first) we should still give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people get angry and say things they don't mean. Sometimes people are passive aggressive. Sometimes people avoid us on purpose for a variety of different reasons. There is usually an explanation for why people are acting wrongly. Those reasons don't make it right, but we should be willing to say, "That person hurt me, but that's not like them to do that. It's not about me. I wonder if they are ok". Giving people the benefit of the doubt enables us to put other's feelings above our own.
Should We Always Give The Benefit of the Doubt?
Are there times where we should stop giving people the benefit of the doubt? Yes, of course!
If your friend is consistently verbally abusive, your husband often smells like someone else's perfume, your sister spreads nasty rumors about you, or your employee's story doesn't line up again, then by all means, use your common sense. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not the same thing as giving them undeserved, unwarranted trust. Be wise. If you see destructive or inappropriate patterns occurring, then start to guard yourself. You can still love those people without continuing to be surrounded by them.
The Bottom line is this: be discerning, be wise, but don't be so self-conscious and afraid of losing people that you fail to give your loved-one's the benefit of the doubt. For as long as it is warranted, trust them. Believe in them. Stop assuming the worst. That isn't fair to them and it is only hurting you.