This evening I came across this post from Pastor Steven Furtick. “Offense is an event; offended is a decision”.
I feel like flags are being waived at me as my daughter just finished reading “The Bait of Satan-Living Free From The Deadly Trap of Offense” by John Bevere. (Minister Cleo Holloway recommended it to her) I started reading it the other night but now I feel like I need to finish it quicker. I’m not sure if I’m trapped in offense or need to prepare myself for a potential trap, but this topic really has me thinking.
Seeing offended as a decision is what caught my attention with Pastor Furtick’s quote. I think we all know at some level, that we can’t control what happens to us 100% of the time, but how we react is all on us. One definition I came across describes offend as “cause to feel upset, annoyed or resentful”. A definition for resentful is “feeling or expressing bitterness or indignation at having being treated unfairly”. So, our individual perceptions dictate if we deem ourselves as having been treated unfairly. Personal experiences and beliefs are key to why what offends one person may not offend the other. I understand that completely, but I really would like to fine tune my skill set with experiencing an offense but not being offended. I think we all have this ability but our connection to the person who we feel has caused the offense or the importance we place on a subject matter is a factor in how we respond.
a. If I’m walking out of a store and hold the door for a stranger to come in and they don’t say “thank you”, I consider that as rude, it is an offense to me. But, I think it about for a second, maybe a few minutes and I go on with my life. BUT..
b. If I’m walking out of church and hold the door for a fellow member to come in and they don’t say “thank you”, I consider that as rude, it is an offense to me. But, I don’t just think about it for a minute. Each time I see them from that day forward, unless they apologize, I think about how rude they were.
I don’t really get involved in talking politics because it can be so polarizing. I often read posts from “my friends” on facebook, who I think should have specific things in common with me and have started to feel some kinda way about their posts. I begin to doubt their authenticity towards me based on their political views. It is like I can’t disconnect them from the statement. I choose to not respond and in my mind I’ve “moved on”, but have I?
How can we tell if we’ve just experienced an offense of if we’ve allowed something to offend us? I think there are a number of things we can consider:
- How much time do we spend thinking about the offense?
- Have we changed our behavior towards someone because of an offense?
- Have we told the person that we were offended?
If we find ourselves distracted and not being productive (gossip is a form of non-productivity) because we’re feeling resentful, I think we’ve made a decision to be offended. If we change or stop our interactions with a person because of what they have said or done, I think we’ve made a decision to be offended. If we never take or create an opportunity to let the person know how we truly feel, we’ve made a decision to be offended. An intentional and careful examination of how we’re responding will quickly let us know if we have held on to an offense or not. Using these assessments as a filter, it becomes very clear that I can control if I’m offended or not. If I don’t want to walk around offended than I must do something to minimize the amount of energy I give to the offense. I know that we can never forget, but we can choose to not be upset, annoyed or resentful as this will open the door to true bitterness.
So, I’m going to try to be more mindful when an offense occurs and take quicker steps to not let it root. When it happens, I’m going to communicate how I feel right then and there, if possible. If direct discussion can’t occur at the moment, I need to create that opportunity ASAP. If I find myself “not wanting to go to the bible study” because Sally is going to be there, I’m going to pray for God to convict me with the quickness, so I don’t miss my blessing or calling being too caught up in my feelings. I’m thinking this is going to be a lot like working out. It is hard to start and it gets challenging in the middle, but if you stick to it, results will come.
Will you join me?