On Being Slandered

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   November 20, 2023 

Even as I write this, I feel somewhat embarrassed. It's almost like I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Like I'm a whiny child. I feel I ought not to let it affect me. To be the bigger person and forgive and forget and all that jazz. 

So why am I letting petty problems occupy so much mind space? Why am I even writing about this?

Well, there are two reasons, to be honest.

First, to get it out in the open so that it loses its sting.

And second, I want to share some lessons I'm learning so that they might be valuable to others. There are some perspectives I've been shown which are quite eye-opening, to say the least.

So, to set context without any frippery. 

Someone said things about me—untrue and primarily their interpretation of my motives. There were things said about my family as well. Again, all untrue and hurtful. I heard bits and pieces from others and more from what was left unsaid but expressed through the embarrassed glances that were exchanged. And it hurt. 

It was painful to be maligned and disparaged. To face so much hostility when I've never done or said anything to hurt the other person. It was unfair and unjust.

So, I did what any good Christian does. I went to the Lord to lick my wounds—hoping and expecting comfort and molly-coddling. I deserved it, I thought. I wanted to hear about God punishing the unrighteous, raining down wrath, and me being vindicated (spectacularly, I was hoping!). 

So, to my eternal surprise, the first thing I read was this gem:

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:20‭-‬23‬ ‭(emphasis mine)

It's rather a rude shock if you ask me. These were no gentle words of comfort. 

I think the first thing that struck me was the word "endure." To do good and suffer with endurance was something that gave God glory. He was not sitting up there waiting to solve my problems. Instead, He wanted me to use the problems as opportunities to praise Him. 

Also, the phrase "for to this you have been called'" stopped me in my tracks. I realised (with a sinking feeling) that there was no cavalry riding in to save the day. This was it. I had been called to this.

I think that seemed to give it more weight, raising it to a more noble level. Especially when I saw the parallels the Lord was drawing between the example He had already set. Jesus suffered this. So could I. Jesus endured this. So could I. Did He complain? Did He whine? Nope. This, here, was my blueprint.

Anyway, a few weeks passed, and I thought I had a handle on this. I felt I had learned my lesson and was being the bigger person here.

But, embarrassingly, when I heard more maligning of my character, I was back to square one! I had done nothing to provoke this slander. I could not understand why this person held me in such contempt and was so hostile towards me.

That's when I read the next set of verses that were like being douched in cold water!

Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted…It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?...For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:3, 7, 11‬ (emphasis mine)

"Consider Him". Just that. I needed to turn my eyes to Jesus. And see all that He endured. The words "hostility against Himself" suddenly took on a new depth of meaning. I began to feel some small measure of the hurt and pain Jesus felt at being lied about and facing the hostility of others. He bore the soul-crushing agony of being misunderstood and misrepresented without trying to give clarifications. He endured.

And then the cherry on the top had to be the answer to my "why." "It is for discipline you have to endure", pretty straightforward—no waffling and mincing words. 

Yet the awareness that the Lord himself agreed that I didn’t have to find this a pleasurable experience was comforting. He understood my pain. He saw my bewilderment. He heard my unhappiness. But He also told me to straighten up and begin training in earnest. To stop licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself. And as my husband would not-so-delicately put it—to stop being a wuss!

Perhaps not the words I wanted to hear, but the ones I needed to.

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance editor, writer, and recently, an artist. She has lived in several cities across India and currently calls Chennai home, where she lives with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy. She blogs at https://inkhorn.home.blog/ and paints @quaintstains on Instagram.

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