My friends, I need to ask you a question: WHAT OFFENDS YOU?
Sometimes we are easily offended. We can watch television and be offended. We can be offended because a stranger parked their car in front of our house. We are offended because the Women’s ministry leader didn’t include us or ask us to participate. We are offended when the train is late, someone forgets to pick up their socks, when we are cut off in traffic, etc., etc. And these are just the little things that will raise an offense in our heart.
THEN there are other offenses. We are emotionally knocked out by words from our mother, father, sister, brother, children, boss, best friend, church members or others. And how about when our spouse speaks something hurtful and you feel like the air was knocked from your chest.
These moments of pain are even more devastating when the words spoken are released with intent to harm, humiliate and are without truth. And hurtful words are especially upsetting when spoken by those we love and trust.
In years past, following a moment of hurtful exchange my gut reaction is revenge. I want to say something to hurt back. I want to rush to my defense and just set this person back a step. I want to react with a blow to their life that would give me satisfaction.
All the years of walking with Jesus, I’ve learned it might feel good in the moment to respond at that level. However, later it never feels good to respond in revenge and give pain to the one who wounded you. But boy howdy, it is hard to respond like Jesus and turn the other cheek.
However, it IS possible. And when you work through the pain and realize that you handled the situation with integrity and maturity, you will be filled with relief and there are some amazing things that are the result when we offer a wise response.
I think in order to work through offense there are two processes that are needed.
In The Moment: You may have more to add to this, but for me, in the moment of a hurtful exchange when emotions are roiling, it’s my intimacy with Christ and my years of practicing grace and restraint through the Holy Spirit that saves me from escalating a situation and restrains me from speaking words that will wound others. I remain focused on words like redemption, hope, reconciliation and grace.
Remaining conscious of who I am and whose I am, re-frames conflict. I don’t need to stoop to untruths or verbal mud-flinging. I don’t need to speak words that intentionally harm, control or silence.
(Side note: There are situations when it’s appropriate to remove yourself from the conflict, i.e., hang up the phone, leave the room, etc.)
After The Moment: How we process and handle the aftermath of an emotional wounding and conflict is utterly crucial for our emotional and spiritual health.
One: Take the pain to Jesus. Immediately, pray. Ask Jesus to come and hold you and to take the words of pain out of your soul. Ask the Holy Spirit to touch your heart and bring healing. Do this over and over until you start to feel peace and a change in your heart.
Two: (Here’s the hard part) Ask the Lord to help you see this person the way He sees them. When I do this, I often can see my attacker’s wounding. I can see they are filled with fear and failure which motivates their hurtful words. Often, I see insecurity cloaked by pride and selfishness. I can sense the fears and pain from wounding, neglect, or unloving parents or others who should have cared for them when they were a child. This kind of empathy develops a supernatural compassion. And when you begin to see them from outside of your pain, it changes how you move forward.
Three: (This is the REALLY hard part) Choose to forgive. Choose to let go. Choose to not be offended. How do you do this? I literally must speak these statements out loud. I take angry thoughts and thoughts of revenge and hurtful words of response, captive to Christ. I put into practice all I’ve learned about the power of our words and I pray them forth.
I take captive any and all repetitive thoughts of an angry response. Thoughts that are unkind, unloving or hate motivated. Over and over. And over and over again, sometimes over many days until they come into obedience and alignment with the truth of the Word.
Then I bless. I bless that person with the knowledge of the love of Christ. With joy, peace and whatever else the Holy Spirit places on my heart. And I can do this with a genuine hope that they receive all they need through Christ.
This process over a few days and/or weeks will bring about healing and leads me out of pain and darkness into light and joy.
Today, I have some homework. In your quiet time this week, I want you to take out paper and pen and pray: Holy Spirit, I give you permission to show me where and with whom I am offended. Write down what you hear then ask the Holy Spirit how to begin to move out of offense.