What Do You Do When You Are Offended…

prisoned leaf

Offenses… we are going to experience the pain of being offended at some point or another in our lives.  Some hurts are intentionally done to us, but other offenses are created unknowingly by the other party.

Once the offense occurs though, what do we do with them?  How do we handle offenses — especially when they are so painful that they “blindside” us and threaten to immobilize our emotions for a time?

Our natural inclination is often to allow the offenses/hurts to fester until they become an even heavier load to carry, turning into the crushing weight of bitterness.

Hurt that is allowed to fester turns into the crushing burden of bitterness.

Here are some thoughts I journaled recently on this subject:

“When I hold onto anger, hurts, and unforgiveness, I allow the offender to hold power over me and am giving the offender permission to continue to hurt me.”

Why would I say that holding onto forgiveness gives the offender power to continue to hurt me?

This is what my journal entry continued to say,

“Holding onto offenses keeps them ever present  in my thoughts and emotions.  It doesn’t allow me to be ‘released’ from the hold of the offenses.  It doesn’t allow me to walk in the peace, joy and grace that God willingly offers to each of us when we yield ourselves to Him.”

My journal then connects unforgiveness with a lack of trust in God.  Why would I connect these two seemingly unrelated issues?

This is what my journal said…

Holding onto offenses is really saying, “I’m not sure God will take care of this.  I trust only myself to take care of this situation (which often means we think we can punish the offender by withholding forgiveness, love, and grace).  The reality is we hurt ourselves the most when we hold onto unforgiveness.”

I have also heard it said that holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping it kills someone else.

To forgive someone is to set yourself free so that the offense and the offender no longer has the power to keep you chained to past hurts.

Today, be set free!  Forgive, even as Christ has forgiven you.  Let Him be your Defender.

Who You Are…

Swallowtail Butterfly

(FreeImages.com/Daniel Eurenius)

On numerous occasions, I find myself either reminding another sweet “sister” or “brother” in Christ or myself the truth of who we are.  Why do we need to be so constantly reminded of this?

Most of us can recite to one another the truth of who we are (who we really are), but when it comes to believing it and thus living it, that’s an entirely different story.

Perhaps to understand why this is such a constant battle — knowing who we truly are — we need to understand why this is so important.

It’s simply this: what you believe about yourself will ultimately influence the person you will live out or be.  Let me say that again:

What you believe about yourself will ultimately determine the person you are living as and the person you will become.

If you are constantly feeding your mind with the lies — that you are worthless, ugly, stupid, fearful, rejected, unloved, unwanted, inferior, etc…, you will self-fulfill those very lies.  You will unknowingly self-initiate the very things you believe about yourself.

You may have experienced rejection in the past, but instead of healing and knowing that what you experienced is not the truth of who you are, you will continue to live rejection.  Instead of not allowing the opinions and lies of others to “roll off” you, you will “take them in.”  As a dear friend said, “You’ll make a pet of them.”

Perhaps, this is one of the biggest reasons why there is a constant attack on our “identity” — who we are.  It’s because we can waste a lot of our life living from the wrong identity instead of living in the freedom of who we were created to be.

Some of us live from a more subtle identity of lies.  We are living from the “good” identities.  We think our worth is based on how “godly,” spiritual, and kind we are.  We think our worth is performance-based.  We try to impress everyone around us with how wise, faith-filled, serving we are.  We can so easily fool ourselves into thinking the motives are all good because we are doing good things — Bible-approved things.  Plus, we receive affirmation and praise from others.  Oh how subtle the deception can be!

Godliness though is not something we do for God.  It’s something we do from God.  Godliness is us submitting ourselves to the sovereignty of God’s grace and power at work in our lives.  It is His initiation and our surrendered response.

Galatians 5:4

You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Some of us are deriving our sense of worth from our beauty, our independence, our accomplishments, our intelligence, our possessions, and our education.

The truth is: your worth has never been about what you do — how “profitable” you are to the world or even more to God. 

Your worth is about Whose you are!

It’s not about your earthly parents — what they are or aren’t.  It’s not about how horrible or not so horrible they were.

Some of you are hurting right now because of the painful things people — even people you respect or love — have said about you or to you.  Perhaps, they were speaking from their own fears, their own experiences, and their own deception.  Whatever the case, these wounds are real.  (In my next blog post, “Offenses,” I plan to write more about what to do with those wounds.)

The first thing you need to understand is that God alone creates reality.  He is truth.  The opinions of others don’t create reality.  There may be truth they have gained from God’s world, laws, and Word, but this doesn’t mean everything they say or think is truth.

So often we base our own sense of worth and identity upon the opinions of others.  The truth is they have no power over you — unless you give it to them by believing what they say or think about you.

Remember who you are!

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.

You were created for a purpose by a loving and good God.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Perhaps, you have never accepted God’s gift of salvation for you.  Here is a fairly familiar verse:

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

He loved you that much!  He desires your presence, your fellowship, and a relationship with you because He loves YOU!

Remember…

You were created for a purpose with inherent worth because you are infinitely loved by an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-wise God!