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Overlooking Small Offenses

Proverbs 19:11 “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense”


Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.


Proverbs 12:16 “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult”


I was given a gift card for a nail salon that I had never been to before. I went in for a pedicure and the man who did the pedicure was at first gruff and he unknowingly hurt me (it didn’t take much). I kindly told him I had recently had major hip surgery and needed to be handled less vigorously. He adjusted for my sensitivity, and I endured the half hour.

When he was ready to paint my toenails, he first put on my new, leather sandals for me so once they dried I’d be ready to walk out the door. Unfortunately, he got bright blue polish on my tan suede foot bed. He said nothing about it, and I only realized it had happened because he grabbed the polish remover and was rubbing it on my shoe instead of my toes. I found it strange and looked down at my shoe, and all I could see was a dark splotch from the wet suede. We did not talk about it, and I hoped it would dry well without blemish.

Alas, it did NOT dry well, nor did it remove the bright blue offense of the polish on my very expensive sandals that I had been in search of for the past two years…ones to replace a similar pair of sandals that I had worn for several summers and on vacation, and was so happy to finally find again.

I actually contemplated going back to the nail salon and showing the manager, requiring that they cover the expense of my damaged shoe. It would have been three times the cost of the pedicure, but I chose to let it go. I could transfer the “offense” and wound this man’s pride and demand payment for another pair of sandals, or I could just wear them as they are. The function of the sandal is exactly the same…it just isn’t perfect to look at.

The next morning I read Proverbs 19:11 “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense”. I am not looking for glory, but rather it seems that this is an opportunity to extend grace to another person, forgive a small offense, and to cover over what could be an even more negative experience for this man who accidentally got nail polish on my new shoe.

There is certainly a place for standing up for oneself or for another, so wisdom needs to be used in discerning what the right course of action is in a given situation. We are not meant to be doormats, constantly being walked on and taken advantage of, but in certain situations it is wiser to overlook the mistake or offense and absorb the loss or minor hurt incurred.

Lately, due to the effects of COVID on our world and our community, there has been a lot of imperfection in product quality, availability shortages and delays, and slower or insufficient staffing for service-based commerce. It is truly frustrating for us as consumers but also for those who are supplying the products or services. In these situations, we need to be able to discern the cause, if possible, and to extend as much grace as possible. Yesterday I went for coffee and ice cream to the local grocery store. They were almost completely out of coffee…many shelves were empty, and the vanilla ice cream section was also bare. Chocolate ice cream just does not go well with Raspberry Rhubarb pie! It’s an opportunity for maturity and understanding to take over and for some creativity to be implemented. I internally dealt with the lack of products and moved on.

My husband’s nickname for me used to be “Correct-All”, which is not something I am proud of. It’s a name of an old laxative from 20+ years ago. Acquiring the nickname was enough to make me aware of my relentless tendency to correct error. I am finally allowing myself to let the errors of others slide a bit (as long as it doesn’t involve something life-threatening) and am trying harder to extend grace. If you know me, you might think I’m not trying at all, but I can tell how much better I’m doing.

I want so badly not to make a mistake myself, that I compulsively keep everyone else in line as best I can so that I keep everything sharp and accurate and right. Just writing that saddens me. I can’t sit on the inside of a car having its windows cleaned by my loving husband without pointing out the spot he is missing. Who knows, maybe he leaves it there as a test for me to see if I’ve outgrown my horrible nickname…and my annoying tendency to point out blemish.

I want to be a person who tolerates humanness – in myself and in others. I can now sit in church behind a squirmy, distracting child and genuinely smile at them rather than show irritation and annoyance. I MIGHT be able to let the spot stay on the window (even though that’s really hard). I’m definitely going to wear the blemished sandals.

What are you going to do to grow in wisdom and patience to overlook the smaller offenses that intersect with your day? I hope you smile at the childish distractor, unsee the spot on the window that someone missed, and wear your imperfect shoes. I’m going to give it my best shot because I believe it to be moving me toward being more Christlike and helping me to promote love in my sphere of influence.

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