My boyfriend and I were at a gathering of his family this past weekend. At one point, one of the members of his family sat down across the table from me, and began grilling me about myself, my likes and dislikes, and how I met my boyfriend. At first, it seemed innocent enough, and I was beginning to spin the tale of how our romance came to be, when this individual said something to me so sexual, personal and vile, it nearly took my breath away.
I can’t say that I was completely surprised, because my boyfriend had warned me about this individual, and had, in fact, been afraid to invite me to his family gathering this last Christmas Eve because we had only been dating for a few weeks, and he didn’t want me to be exposed to this person’s idea of humor. I did go to the Christmas Eve celebration, and thankfully, the individual did not speak to me at length then.
When the person saw that I was taken aback, he actually repeated the same disgusting comment, and my boyfriend, who was sitting next to me, said in a low tone to him, “That’s enough.” But for me, it wasn’t enough–my boyfriend’s response, I mean. I wanted more. I wanted him to stand up and take the guy on to defend my honor. I wanted him to give the guy a black eye. But then something within me rose up, and I looked the individual in the eye and said, “You are being incredibly rude.” And I stood up and walked away.
We were at a pizza restaurant and I headed for the restroom. When I came back out, the individual was standing up at the front counter ordering something, and he studied me as I began to walk past him. I looked at him and said again, “You are rude and crass,” and strode past him. When I got back to my boyfriend, he could see he I was upset, and didn’t know quite how to handle me. I had emotionally pulled into my shell and wanted to escape. Fortunately, it was time to say our goodbyes and I turned to find the individual standing near me and holding his arms open to give me a hug. It was the last thing I wanted to do. He didn’t offer an apology, but said instead, “I just can’t help it.”
“Yes you can!” I retorted. “Yes you can!” I knew he was studying me, and I wished I could know what he was thinking. Did he see the light of Christ within me? Did he feel the sudden weight of conviction of the Holy Spirit? His response told me he did.
Afterward, as we were driving home, I didn’t offer my hand to my boyfriend to hold as we always do when we’re driving somewhere. I felt as though he’d let me down somehow, and I had to fight back the tears for a while. But as I had time to think about it, I realized that he wasn’t responsible for the other man’s behavior. And I certainly wouldn’t want him to make a scene in front of his extended family, a scene that would have put a rift between him and them for years to come. I had been put in an ugly spot by the individual, but my boyfriend may have been put in an even more uncomfortable position.
Life here on planet Earth is a battlefield. And whether we like it or not, we’re on the frontlines. And if we know Jesus and His Holy Spirit lives within us, we are equipped for such a situation as that. I didn’t think I was–but when I looked back on how I responded, I know it wasn’t me who spoke, but He who lives within me. He was affronted. He was dishonored. He called the evil what it was, but did not respond with equal ugliness.
As evil continues to infiltrate our society, such vile comments will become more commonplace. Don’t be surprised, but do be prepared. If the Holy Spirit lives within you, He will come to your aid. He will defend you. And He will not do it in a retaliatory fashion, but with truth. You do have a Defender who loves you and honors you. He will never let such a personal attack go without a response in one way or another. He will speak through you or someone near you, and give the appropriate words at the appropriate time. and with it will come His conviction, which may ultimately bring this man to the light.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)