A friend apologized after Mom Time for texting during my lesson. Actually, I hadn't noticed, but I would not have been upset with her because I trust her. If I had noticed, my first thought would have been "I hope everything is ok." We have built a relationship on mutual respect; to be upset before knowing the details would not have been fair to her or our friendship.
Someone has been irritated with me on and off lately...I know, right?! Each time has been due to a misunderstanding or misperception, but here is the deeper question: What does this person really think of me? Do they believe I am a person who would do the things they think I did?
Instead of being angry back or launching into defense mode, I consider where they are coming from. What irritates us or hurts our feelings often speaks to what is going on in our hearts. When this person was irritated at me last time, it was because she felt hurt and left out, which speaks to a deeper insecurity and loneliness that I know this person carries because we have talked about it.
Dr. Henry Cloud spoke on relationships at Women of Faith, and he said that when people don't behave as we want them to, it really isn't their problem, it is our problem. We are in charge of our reactions and feelings. If dogs barking and kids fighting really bug you, the problem is not with the dog and the kids. Our responsibility, no matter what, is to live in a manner that glorifies God. Lashing out in anger does not produce the righteousness of God.
What do we do on a practical level? We pause, considering the other person's perspective, while not owning it, practicing humility and gentleness. The Bible reminds us to live in peace with everyone as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), and the first step of that is giving someone the benefit of the doubt.