Photo Credit: Microsoft Office
This post has been floating around in my head for about a year. There have been various reasons why I have put it off..and even now as I type I don’t know how long it will sit in the drafts folder before I hit publish.
I want to talk about false accusations. Unfortunately, it seems like this is a very common occurrence…even in Christian circles. It can be very painful, very confusing, and very discouraging.
In my life there have been several occasions on which I was falsely accused. Some issues weren’t that big…while others were much bigger in scope. I have asked myself several times, “Why?” Why would a person say something like that? I’ve come up with a few answers to help understand why things like that come up.
1. Lack of information. People assume. Like when people look at me, see that I am thin, and either tell me I have an eating disorder or, bare minimum, I’m underweight. Or, when people met our family growing up and saw that the girls wore skirts all the time, it must be because our family was part of ATI, a nationwide homeschool group. Both of those are false. I have never had an eating disorder, and if you ask the doctors I grew up with, they will tell you that I have always been small…but always very healthy in weight (with the exception of the unexplained weight loss three years ago. I have since gained back the weight). Also, my family made the switch to wearing skirts before my parents had even heard of ATI.
2. People don’t take the time to get to know you themselves. Back to the skirts thing…after people saw that we wore skirts all the time, it was then clear to them that obviously our Dad was forcing us to do so. Many, many times this turned people against my Dad. If there is one thing people want to do to seriously get me upset, it’s to turn on my Dad. The reason why this is so, so frustrating to me is that people just don’t care to know us. They didn’t take the time to even ask us. If they had asked me, I would have told them without hesitation that it was my choice to wear skirts. Instead, people preferred to assume and then make judgments about our family, calling some/all of us legalistic and judgmental. (Interesting how judgmental people were toward what they perceived was our judgmentalism.)
3. Personality. I think oftentimes false accusations can start because of difference in personality. I know that I have been guilty of that one. For example, there are the times when I have seen a girl who quite obviously (to me) was flirting inappropriately with a guy. Later, upon examination, I realized that maybe she wasn’t. For me personally, if I had been saying those things and doing those things, I know my heart would have been crossing a line…and I had assumed that therefore she was crossing the same line.
Oftentimes people mean well. Like the woman who confronted me and told me that there should be serious reason to doubt my salvation. I am sure that her heart was to point me in the direction of Christ. But this woman barely knew me and was basing her thoughts on very little information. I think that all three points above could be reasons as to why she came to that conclusion.
One of the more recent cases of false accusation in my life left me reeling. An acquaintance had said some very…untrue things regarding me during the time where Michael and I were getting to know each other. I wasn’t offended…I was more just…shocked. And confused. The first two days after that, my mind was just spinning. How could this person say that? S/he doesn’t know any of the story or what really happened.
So what do you do when those issues come up? What is the response when you are falsely accused?
1. Forgive. Don’t hold onto a grudge. Let it go. My sister wrote a great post on false accusations and forgiveness. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting. God says to strive to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). An aspect of forgiveness is to put aside your personal pain to the extent that it keeps you from loving that person as yourself. If you are holding onto your hurt and pain so that you cannot love that person as you ought, whether in your mind or with your words and actions, then you are likely holding onto a grudge.
2. Pray for the person. One of the greatest displays of God in the last situation I wrote above was when one of my first thoughts was to just pray for the person who had falsely accused and slandered me. My sinful heart so often turns to bitterness, but God’s grace prompted my heart to love that person through prayer. The peace that came into my heart was amazing!
3. Give the benefit of the doubt. Think about the reasons why that person might have said what they did. Perhaps it was one of the three reasons I listed above or perhaps it was something else. Give a minute to think about it from their perspective.
4. Examine yourself. Is there anything that you have done that would give cause for the person to think what they did? Was there any grain of truth to the accusation? Spend time in prayer and reflection. Sometimes you might realize the answer is yes. If that is the case, you can praise God that the accusation showed you an area to work on. Sometimes, however, the answer might be no. The accusation was completely unfounded. Be humbly willing to accept either answer.
5. Guard your own heart against assumption and judgment toward others. So much pain can be caused by assuming things or by putting your own personality and experiences onto someone else. If you don’t know something to be true, don’t let it cloud your vision toward that person. Especially do not spread it to someone else!! If you don’t know all the facts, take the time to get to know the person yourself instead of just assuming things about them or their character.
Of course, there are much bigger false accusations that can come up. Sometimes there are much greater repercussions. There are two situations in my life where I was more of an observer of the whole thing. Even though several years have gone by, my heart still breaks and I am praying so hard that the truth will come to light and justice will come to bear. Both situations have, to various extents, seemed very “closed”…but God’s power is not limited and I know that He can still redeem these stories. Bare minimum, the truth will come to light in heaven. It is my prayer though that it will yet happen in this lifetime.
If you are in the middle of a bigger situation like that, do not lose hope. I am almost in tears as I write this, because it hurts my heart so much to see the damaged relationships, the lies that so many people believe. If that is you, be strong. Have courage. God is working.
So there you have it. A post that has been a year in the making. ;)