Two young girlfriends talking, comic art illustration

Today I learned what not to do when someone offends you. I opened my mouth and made things worse.

This person who offends me started up again today. I have been sitting on this offense for some time. Every week for months she has engaged in behavior inconsistent with our group.

Every week I ignored it and told myself that the matter was inconsequential—to let it go. The only reason today was different was that I wasn’t feeling well. I was cranky. But there is no excuse for losing my hard-won resolve to let the matter pass and to keep quiet about it. I actually didn’t think it was bothering me that much.

When this person began the same offense today, I opened my mouth and told her to stop. She quickly began to argue with me that she was justified by her actions. I should have let it go at that, but I didn’t. I told her that her behavior offended not only me but also others in the group. I didn’t speak to her in a mean way, but I was firm. I can be quite intimidating when I speak. She stopped and I thought the matter was settled.

It wasn’t more than a minute before I heard her speaking to others to justify her actions and to get them on her side. This was all done on the sly, but I was aware of her moving from person to person and putting them on the spot. Almost to a one, the members of our group shifted uncomfortably under her query and said, “of course not. I didn’t even notice.” I’m sure she feels her actions are justified and that I am in the wrong.

The problem is that I am in the wrong. I had no right to serve as a judge and jury and call her out. No good thing comes from pointing out someone else’s wrong. They almost never take it well.

Now I have made it worse. Before the end of the meeting, I could see that lines were drawn. There were those on my side and those on her side. Those on her side began looking at me differently. Those on my side whispered their support with a vindictive dig at my opponent. That’s not what I wanted at all. I only wanted her to stop and to see it my way. Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?

Proverbs 10:12 says, “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” Oh, if I had only read this scripture before I opened my mouth today.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” I guess that I brought death, not life by my accusing words. Now I am reaping the consequences.

There is only one course of action left to me. I will go to her and apologize. I don’t know if this will end the matter, but it is the right thing to do.