He was about seven years old, attending the Church’s Vacation Bible School. I barked at him to get down from the banister. I didn’t want him to get hurt. I also didn’t want him to hurt the furniture. While both he and the furniture remained intact, I might have hurt his feelings, although I really think he was rather sturdy internally too.
He climbed down and then looked at me with outrage.
“You have no right to make me feel this way.” He declared.
I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m going to tell my father what YOU DID!”
“Why don’t we call him right now and you can tell him.” I offered.
He considered it, and then said, “No, that’s alright. I forgive you.”
He went to class with his dignity repaired.
It’s interesting to me how people will often act offended when they’ve been called to account for their own act of offensiveness. A melodramatic little kid makes us smile, but grown people who act this way cause heartache (and headache). I’ve known plenty of adults act the same way when confronted with their mistakes. And I’d have to include myself in this group.
We do this because we’re defensive, of course. We try hard to do good things and we don’t like being blamed. And when it looks like we’re going to be blamed, we attack. It’s not me; it’s you and everyone else.
But growth is found in the humility to examine ourselves. Real grownups respond gently in the face of criticism.
I guess I’m still more like that little kid. I have a little more growing up to do. How about you?