Navigating through offense and choosing to forgive.

“It wasn’t that I was offended, it was that I…”

How many of us have ever said those words or had those thoughts about being offended.  People tend to defer offense because it feels pretty vulnerable to admit that someone has shaken your core.  When someone’s core is shaken, that means that they have let someone into a place that they deem worthy and for some reason, that feels like weakness to a lot of people.

Let’s get something straight from the beginning, though:  allowing ourselves to be seen and heard are never weakness.

The well known TEDTalk speaker, Brené Brown gives an excellent definition of vulnerability and that is, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”  When we open ourselves to be vulnerable, we are also opening ourselves to offense.  When we are courageous and allow people to see us (you know, without those facades we love to live under) the possibility of them having something to say to that has increased and what we do with those comments will determine how long we stay in offense or choose to forgive.

When we have allowed offense to take root in our lives, there are a few things we need to take notice of, and we will explore those things together.

Some of you may wonder, “what does offense look like?” and it takes on many different faces.  Offense often times looks like unforgiveness and feels like resentment.  When we hold onto unforgiveness, we tend to walk around wounded and bitter and the result of that is living a life that feels heavy and is bound up.  The Lord’s desire for our life is to have a life of joy and wholehearted relationships. (“My desire is to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow.” – John 10:10 TPT)

When offense finds a home in our heart, it’s a sure way to destroy friendships rather than build them up.  If you think about it, how could you flourish in a relationship when you’re constantly holding things against that other person?  When our hearts have closed that person off from having influence in our life (another result of offense: we can’t hear the other person very clearly) we have lost one of the key ingredients that make a friendship a friendship.  Our goals in friendship and intimate relationships should never (first) be to agree, but to understand and that will require open hearts on both ends.

Cultivating honor in our relationships will in some ways, create an “offense resilience” in our bones and allow us to have “reality checks” when our feelings are trying to dictate the truth.  Kris Vallotton shed some light on this topic recently at Bethel Church: “Emotions are great servants but horrible masters.” The truth is, we can feel offended but what we do with that feeling will determine how long we stay there.  A powerful person will not allow themselves to be a victim of someone else’s words, rather they choose how respond both in word and in heart.  The more we practice this, the more it comes alive.  Forgiveness practice seems like a silly idea, but the more we practice anything, the easier it becomes.  (It’s actually fascinating and worth reading about how our brains create new neural pathways the more we do a certain practice.)

So, in short, will that person on your worship team say something to you that may not make your heart feel taken care of?  Or a co-worker pass a comment that ruins your day?  We need to be sure that we aren’t giving people enough power in our life to have the ability to ruin our day, because the only person in control of that is you. (Thank you, Danny Silk, for that life lesson.)

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