Growing up I had two sisters (also a lone brother, pity him). My older sister is 7 years older than me so I mostly looked up to her, followed her around, and attempted to read her diary (unsuccessfully though because it was in cursive, and I was 7).
My younger sister was only a year younger though so we were incredibly close but fought like you wouldn’t believe.
I’m pretty sure my parents considered adoption at points!
We’re both so much alike in that we are head strong, idealistic, and passionate. We’ve gotten into many debates. We’ve taken different paths. At times those paths led us in wildly different directions. We’ve done things to hurt each other. I was the dutiful, worried big sister and she was the care-free little sister throwing caution to the wind.
But blood is thicker than water and we’ve always come back and managed to sort through our differences.
When you love people you find common ground. You work things out. You forgive.
Offense can sneak in and bring down families, churches, marriages, even ones faith.
I was wrestling with it recently (um, today, it was today) and I want to share how we can recognize it and deal with it effectively.
As soon as I realized I was upset with a certain someone I tried to quiet my emotions and keep my perspective. But when you are offended your emotions get inflamed with hurt and anger and indignation and perspective can be quick to fly out the window. My own tendency is to get offended and then try to figure it out on my own, like “why did that person do that? What are they really saying? What is their problem? (it’s always their problem, amiright?!)”…
But today I felt all that rising up in me and I stopped, dropped and prayed. I did. I put my hair dryer down and knelt right in my bathroom to pray. “Lord, I don’t want to be offended. I know it is a big deal to you. Lord, help me to let this go. Lord, please help this person. Please give them clarity and grace and maybe a gentle smack up the side of the head with an anointing of perspective. Amen.”
Normally I wouldn’t surrender it like that. I’d analyze and over-analyze and get all tied up in knots over it. I would sleep horribly and then feel even worse. Because offense steals our peace. It steals our joy. It stops up the fountain of the grace of God from flowing freely in our lives.
But I did pray, and I felt so much better. I let it go. I didn’t pick it back up.
Often, people hurt us out of their own places of wounding. Our insecurity causes us to act a fool at times. It can control us if we aren’t careful. I know I’ve sinned from that place. I’ve needed grace a’plenty. Why would I not being willing to extend it?
There are very serious warning about not letting offense come in and take over.
“Pursue peace with all men…that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14-15
Your bitter root is not staying contained. That thing is going to wind its way around you until it chokes the life out of you and goes on to defile many. Bitterness is something that we starve or nurture. We need to pull it out by the root. We need to deal with offenses as they come so that we don’t have any rotten roots growing wild producing rotten fruit stinking up our lives.
We’re all human so it’s safe to say that wherever we gather; stupid, insensitive things will be said. People will feel left out. People will clash.
We need to keep strengthening those forgiveness muscles. Especially in those close relationships where you see people at their best and also at their worst.
There isn’t much sadder than the distance that results from a refusal to forgive. People can genuinely love each other but lose years of precious time together because of the bitterness that took hold.
Also, (hello) it’s a major, major deal to God.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15
God isn’t going to give you this beautiful and costly gift for you to hoard to yourself. We don’t siphon grace. We live it out. He forgave, so we can too.