I want to be very transparent and share something with all of you that I had to learn the hard way. About 2 years ago I was hurt by someone close to me and I thought I could just let it go, so I never said anything (mostly because I was afraid of confrontation and the discomfort it might bring) and that seed of hurt took root and grew into an offense. Our relationship has since been restored and I thank God I learned a very painful lesson in this season, but it was a process and a hard cycle to break. It was challenging to recognize the offense in my own heart at the time, but as I look back I can see all of the signs and the wake of division and pain I caused because of it. I want to share with you what I learned in the hope that you don’t make the same mistakes and won’t have to endure the results offense offers.
The word “offense” is “skandalon” in greek and means, “the trigger of a trap”. So, offense isn’t the end result, it’s only a trigger to a greater trap. The greater trap is unforgiveness. I don’t want to give too much credit to the enemy, but he is crafty and he has studied humanity from the beginning of time and knows what hurts us and how to trap us. Offense is a trigger and it traps us in a place of unforgiveness. This scripture is hard to swallow and many have tried to excuse it away as not meaning what is written, but God does not play around with unforgiveness. In Matthew 6:14-15 it says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We can’t walk around with debts against others when ALL of our debts have been forgiven by the one who has the authority to deem us as guilty. This is not the heart posture God wants us to have.
What’s crazy is a lot of times the trigger is something really trivial and unimportant, then it snowballs into something bigger. Satan tricked Eve with a piece of fruit, so we shouldn’t be surprised when he baits us with something small. For me it was sunglasses (I’m not kidding). Maybe a trigger for you was being excluded from a party, getting overlooked for a promotion, an argument where you felt misunderstood, credit wasn’t given to you, broken promises, a compliment you didn’t receive and the list can go on and on. Instead of having an uncomfortable conversation or allowing God to heal our hearts, we will stuff it down and not deal with it. We replay conversations in our mind, twist the truth, we don’t give the benefit of the doubt and before we know it our hurt has become an offense and our offense has become unforgiveness.
So, when we take the bait, we can be guilty of walking around offended masquerading as “fine” and “stable” but misery loves company and these things begin to manifest in my life:
Alliances. Offense works to get people on your team. We are lead to believe it’s you against them, so any good strategist would know you don’t go to war alone. You form an alliance so you have people on “your side”. We share our hurt with anyone who will listen, painting the offender as “bad” and us as “good” and before we know it our listener picks up the offense and we have now multiplied.
- It’s Contagious. Offense is like the flu, it’s highly contagious. People are wired to protect and defend those they care about, even if it’s not protecting us verbally or physically they will pick up our spirit and carry it with them. So, let’s say they encounter the “offender”, their face may say “I like you” but their heart is far from it. Now that the seed of offense has been planted in their heart as well, they will find reasons they too are offended with that person when nothing even happened to them personally.
- Causes Division. A line has been drawn in the sand, us and our offended army are on one side and the “offender” is on the other. Most of the time the person who offended us doesn’t even know they offended us. Our offense has removed unity and we can’t move in the same direction. Any time the “offender” does anything it’s always wrong, so our offense is an all-consuming fire that’s hard to extinguish. We have separated ourselves from what the person had to offer us and the role they are meant to play in our lives and vice versa.
- Skews Perspective. We can lose our ability to see our own faults in this process and we pick up a victim mentality. When we replay the trigger for our offense over and over in our brains the truth gets skewed and warped causing us to live in an alternate reality. We will question who the person is to their core, their motives and the relationship we had with them.
- Crewel Master. Eventually offense owns us. It dictates how we see people, it pushes us away from those we care about, it separates us from our calling, it leads us down a path we wouldn’t have chosen minus offense. It tells us how to think and feel about people and does everything in it’s power to prevent reconciliation. Our hearts drift into a place of unforgiveness, walls are built and relationships die.
- When a hurt goes unforgiven and unresolved, it becomes an offense. I could have prevented all of this if I had just had a conversation and shared how I had been hurt. But I chose the route which caused pain and wasted time. However, there is hope! If you find yourself in a place of offense you don’t have to stay there. It’s possible to break this cycle and be set free. Part 2 will explain how I came to the place of revelation, repentance and reconciliation.
How to prevent offense:
Pray. Ask God to heal the hurt and to give you the ability to see this from His perspective.
Forgive. Immediately forgive before you even have a conversation. When you go into it with forgiveness in your heart you are not allowing offense to plant seeds.
Give them the benefit of the doubt. Before you arrive at the conclusion the offense was malicious and done intentionally give them grace. Maybe you heard them wrong, maybe they are having a bad day, or maybe you have misread their intentions.
Do not dwell on it. Do not replay it over and over in your head. Every time you do the story will change a little and make what happened worse than what really occurred and before you know it, you are living in an alternate reality.
Have the hard conversation. If you were hurt you need to say something even if it’s awkward or hard. This will help you get clarity on what happened and the other party will apologize for the misunderstanding or hurting you (hopefully they are mature enough to apologize in this moment).
Move on. You don’t have to hold what they did against them and approach them with hesitancy. This goes back to the forgive, benefit of the doubt, don’t dwell on it steps.
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