I think for me I had come to a point in my life where I felt like I should be ashamed whenever I felt offended. For awhile I had this sense of guilt whenever I would share my offense with my husband, or even a close friend.
But when I realized holding in these feelings brought about depression in me, I knew it was time to find healthy ways to overcome the offense, and to deal with the emotions I was feeling.
It wasn’t easy, and sometimes I still second guess if how I’m handling the offense is honoring God, and even the person who offended me. Especially if I am transparent about the offense with someone else. Thankfully I feel I have found some ways to overcome an offense while still honoring God and everyone involved.
1. God did not make you a robot. One thing that helps me to overcome an offense is remembering that God did not make me a robot. If I am feeling anger, hurt, or if I feel offended then I need stop ignoring those feelings and I need to bring them to the Lord in prayer. I typically do this with my journal. When I do this I am quick to realize that I am not a victim of the offense, and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that lives in me.
2. Jesus expressed His hurt. I think back to the time Jesus was praying in the garden before His crucifixion and think about how he was afraid, crying. This shows me that even Jesus had emotions that He expressed. We need to find healthy ways to express our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Jesus did so in prayer, and I think that is a great place to put all your hurt feelings, too.
3. The behavior of other people isn’t a reflection of God’s feelings towards you. I used to think when people favored me then God favored me. Or when people hated me then I must have been upsetting God, too. Other people’s judgement of you doesn’t count, it simply doesn’t matter. How other’s treat you is not a reflection of how God feels about you.
4. We need to let God know why we are angry with HIM. When we feel like God is not coming to our rescue and we feel He has abandoned us, then that can truly affect our prayer life. I have stopped praying and reading my Bible for days because God wouldn’t come to my rescue in the offense I was experiencing. You may even go through an experience where you feel like you are being punished and the offender is being exalted. All of this could lead you to the mindset that God is displeased with you, and not them. This could all lead to anger towards God and resulting in carrying an offense towards God!
5. Everyone gets offended. We need to be able to embrace the fact that everyone gets offended. For such a long time I would try to hide the fact that I was offended because I didn’t want to LOOK like I was gossiping, and I quite honestly wanted to put on the image that I was a “peacemaker.” I didn’t want to contribute to the division within the church by being offended. I felt like if I was offended then I was joining forces with the enemy. But the truth is this world is highly offensive to the Body of Christ. If you aren’t offended by some of the things that are going on in this world today then I would honestly think you were in fact a robot or a cyborg. Everyone gets offended, we just get offended in different ways. So something that offends me might not offend you, and vice versa. But that doesn’t mean nobody gets offended.
6. The same mercy covering you is also covering your enemies. It can be difficult to look at a situation and feel like there is no justice being served. We wait for God to vindicate us, but it seems like He is doing the exact opposite by blessing our enemies. But the truth is the same mercy that covers you also covers your enemies. Just because God isn’t shooting balls of fire at the people who have hurt you, it doesn’t mean He isn’t in the process of getting ready to give YOU an upgrade. I think the defeat comes when we allow the offense to stop us from walking in God’s grace and mercy. For me personally I have wrestled with trust issues and I have found that if I let these trust issues determine my steps then I will likely destroy many of the relationships around me, not because of them, but because of my offense. Sometimes the justice is found is how we RISE UP from the ashes rather than how your enemies “pay” for what they did to you.
7. The more grace you need, the more grace you will receive and be able to give. When we are humble enough to know we make mistakes, and we receive God’s grace, then we are able to give more grace to others who have offended us! It’s hard to give grace when we have yet to acknowledge the grace we are walking in everyday. The more grace we receive from God, the more grace we will be willing to give. When we realize that our struggles are very similar to the struggles of our enemies, then it is a little bit easier to not hold an offense agains them forever.
8. You are allowed to limit access to you life. I am learning very quickly that if I want to have the right attitude, or enough energy to nurture the relationships in my life, then I need to not allow certain people to have access to my life. Sometimes this means keeping certain people out so that I can be a better wife, mother, and friend. There are some people that will only cause you pain no matter how hard you try to meet their standards, or how much you truly care about them. Sometimes that door to the relationship just isn’t open to you. I have learned that if people want to be in your life then they will make an effort to do so. People truly matter, and every person that is in my life matters to me. Sometimes I need to say no to certain relationships so that I can treat these people with the love and respect I desire to give them.
9. You will make mistakes, and that’s Ok. Just the other day I prayed to God saying I need for HIS grace to be bigger than my mistakes right now. I was on the brink of a decision that I just didn’t know if it was the “right” thing to do. But I didn’t have peace in not doing anything. So I decided to move forward, and to be honest I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I felt a peace afterwards and that was enough for me.
10. God is bigger. No matter what the offense, God is bigger. It’s a big world out there and if we are focusing on a select few people that have hurt us then we have made them an idol in our life. Often times we make these offenses bigger than God , and our offender often has more influence over our thoughts, actions, and attitude for the day than God does. Instead of magnifying God’s love and gentleness towards us, we magnify the meanness and hatred that is coming from another person. God is bigger than all of this, when we realize this then I feel that is when we will be ready to move on.
Hopefully these ten truths will help you overcome an offense in your life. One thing I have learned is that we determine what we allow in our life. It’s OK to set up boundaries in order to protect what is important to you.
For me, when I feel rejected by people that I don’t have a close personal relationship with, it causes these insecure feelings rise up in me, and I find myself taking it out on the people who ARE close to me and who love me. I end up distancing myself from the people I love because the people who are hurting me obviously matter more in my heart than my friends & family.
This is when I realized I needed boundaries. If I have to distance myself from these people in order to make sure I don’t take out my anger on my kids or my husband, then I am willing to set up boundaries.
We can’t be friends with everyone, and we can’t have a close relationship with certain people. We all have 24 hours in a day, we truly need to be careful how we spend our time and who we spend our time with. It’s time for us to make sure our energy and lives are spent investing in those whom we love, and who love us back.
With all of that being said, we are to love our enemies, so pray for them. But don’t be afraid to admit they are in fact your enemies. We need to determine who we invest in, who invests in us, and who are our enemies. Loving people doesn’t mean pretending your enemies don’t really exist, or making your enemies your influencers. When our emotions are determined by how these people treat us, then they have gained influence over our lives.
Yes, we need to tread carefully, but not to the point where we just hold in all this bitterness and anger to the point where we are mistreating those around us. This life is a journey, and it’s not always easy, but God is good and He will never leave you nor forsake you.
No matter what Christmas was for us in the past, it seems like every year it has the opportunity, and the possibility, to be something completely different and brand new. That’s what Jesus brought with Him as He was born into this world; He brought with Him a clean slate, a fresh start, and something brand new to our lives and to our faith.
Today I invite you to come and take this imperfect advent journey with me to discover the beauty of the good and perfect gifts God has given us through His Son Jesus. Let us journey together to discover what those gifts are, how we can receive those gifts, and most importantly the importance of being a good steward of those gifts.