I offended a friend–how do I move on

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  • Michelle
    October 16, 2022 at 12:03 pm #1116518

    I have a friend who I accidently offended. She was sharing in a group chat with my Christian small group that a coworker made a racist joke (this friend is Black) and it was extremely offensive and was asking for prayers. When I heard that it reminded me of when I have had men in my life make sexist jokes or students make sexual jokes. My go-to is always to ask them explain it because they realize it’s not actually funny. Anyway, I reached out to this friend and tried to empathize, said I was sorry she was going through that. I asked what she thought might happen if she asked the coworker to explain the joke, but wasn’t sure if that was something that would work for her. I said I would continue praying and would love to support her in any way. She responded saying that my message was very insensitive and that I have no right to say anything since I do not and will never know her experience. She said she knew no one in our group would understand and that I shouldn’t say I was trying to help because I wasn’t, I was being a savior. I was sick to my stomach that I made her feel this way. I apologized and explained that I knew I did not share her experience but was trying to connect in some way. I told her how sorry I was for hurting her and asked if we could meet so I could learn more about how to support her. I haven’t heard from her since and I’m not sure what to do. I am supposed to see her in small group tomorrow and I don’t know if I should pull her aside and apologize or leave it be.

    October 16, 2022 at 12:23 pm #1116519

    It sounds like she was asking for prayers and you gave her solutioning. Also kind of after the fact solutioning, which is less helpful. If you say in the moment, “what does that mean,” or “that’s not funny,” it can work, but following up with that after days have passed, not so much. Your friend may have thought you were saying, like, “this is what you should have done.”

    If she’s a good friend, you could try reaching out one more time and sincerely apologizing for not giving her what she needed in the moment.

    October 16, 2022 at 3:46 pm #1116520

    Can you put yourself in her shoes and imagine how “Could you ask your coworker what they meant by that comment?” is incredibly insensitive and even triggering, when she was just reaching out for support. I cannot even imagine what it must be like going about your every single day and having to deal with people’s terrible ignorance.

    I know what you meant, and what you were trying to do or show her, but time and place. This wasn’t the time or the place. Apologize when you see her again.

    Every single time someone comes to you with something like that (if you aren’t sure what to do) ask them what they would like from you, advice, support, and ear, etc. I get what you were getting at but that really only works in the moment, and it’s really not on her to use those moments to teach anyone about their ignorance. They know.

    October 17, 2022 at 5:42 am #1116526

    A friend was getting divorced, sometimes she’d vent and I’d say something stupid like “have you considered… ? ” and she told me “stop. i don’t want to see his side I want 100% support” so from then on I’d just confirm he was an ass. Period.

    Apologize to your friend for not listening to her request and that you’ll do better in the future

    Although between you and me, her “you can’t possibly understand what I’m going through” is nonsense – she’s a freaking bystander who didn’t stand up to her racist coworker in the moment and now she’s asking for prayers (for whom – herself for not acting or for the coworker for being a racist and does she think that prayers absolve her from not acting?) but those are different issues and not for this moment.

    Maybe you should tell her that you’re going to pray that in the future she finds the strength to call out racism in the moment.

    October 17, 2022 at 5:48 am #1116528

    Leslie I think the offended friend is Black. It took me a couple reads to get that.

    October 17, 2022 at 5:54 am #1116530

    Oh shit, I did not get that from the post. In that case ignore the second two paragraphs and just stick with the apology.

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I offended a friend–how do I move on

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