Daddy and I have been dealing with a painful trial for months and months. Whisperings and uncertainty have buffeted us for half a year.
The natural inclination when someone is gossiping, slandering or implying half-truths about you is to set the record straight. Truth and your reputation -- your testimony -- become of paramount importance in your mind. I cannot begin to explain to you how strongly that desire will consume you if you allow it to take hold.
But God has a different plan. He will both defend and avenge us. We aren't expected or allowed to run around making sure everyone knows "the truth." We aren't supposed to give our tormentor a good left hook or bite a chunk out of them to satisfy our feral desire for vengeance. We need to leave it in His hands instead. We are fortunate to have a pastor that understands this truth and has encouraged us to wait and let God fight our battles.
The real fight when we are misrepresented by a friend or foe is with ourselves. Am I going to leave this in God's hands, or attempt to straighten it out on my own? Am I going to exact vengeance on the individual that has hurt me, or pray for them? Am I going to defend myself?
Pastor preached a message on I Corinthians 4 last night as part of his series on "Learn Your Lessons Well". It wasn't an easy sermon to hear, but it was one we both needed badly. I'd encourage you to read that chapter if you're facing slander and gossip in your own life. Daddy and I looked up a resource he mentioned (A.W. Tozer's spiritual laws) when we got home, and that gave us additional conviction and comfort. We've been slow to fully apprehend these truths, and I'm certain we'll face this trial again. We may have to face more slander from the same individual, or it may come from a different source. It is my hope and prayer that when it does come, we run straight to our Heavenly Father and rest secure that He will deal with it in His way and time.
The other side of this fight has been dealing with being the "murder victim" of a silent treatment campaign. When a former friend dislikes you so much they bloodlessly murder you by pretending you don't exist, it hurts! Through the Word and godly counsel, I have come to realize that there is a heart problem before God that needs to be dealt with before the immediate situation can be resolved. My pastor's wife advised me to gracefully avoid contact to allow the Lord time to work in that person's heart.
That does not mean returning the silent treatment.
When I passed this lady on a staircase at a conference last week, I smiled and said "hello". That was hard. I wanted to just keep my head down and pretend I didn't even see her. If I am in a situation where I cannot gracefully remove myself, she will always see a smile light up my face, even though it would be easier to just look the other way.
That does mean I will honor her desire to avoid me, because my presence starts a downward spiral in her thoughts and heart.
I have completely hidden my presence from her on a social network so that she can continue to enjoy her friendships there, and I don't attempt to approach her or make eye contact when she is obviously trying hard to avoid me. I will not gain anything for myself or help her spiritual walk by trying to smooth things over between us. That's been a hard truth to swallow.
That also means I have to keep my heart tender toward her, so that if she chooses to confront me about my offense against her, I am willing and ready to listen and confess if necessary.
This is probably the most difficult part of the whole equation for me. It's easy to dwell on what I might have done. That's not "thinking Bible," though, because Phillipians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true. It would be even easier given our history to write her off as oversensitive and immature. That's not Bible thinking, either. There are dozens (or maybe hundreds) of verses that command and exhort sacrificial unity. The truth is that I need to draw close to my Savior, leave the whole problem in His hands, and simply wait.
You are so dear to my heart I would protect you from every ill word and all the hurtful snubs that you will inevitably encounter as you go through life. But God loves you much more, and He knows that all of that friction is necessary to change you into His image. I cannot keep you from it, but I want to walk with you through it, and help you make good decisions that strengthen your relationship with the One who will never leave you, lie about you, or reject you.
Remember: The fight is not with the person who's hurting you, it is with your desire to defend or avenge yourself.
Love and a hug,
P.S. Here's wisdom from a friend on the same topic, How to Deal with Relationships You Wish Would Go Away.