Pray for the offender.
In scripture we are told to pray for our enemies and to do good to those who hurt us. On the surface, it seems like an impossible pill to swallow. But, what I have found is that by behaving in this way, God is helping set us free from the shackles of unforgiveness and bitterness that bind us in the wake of an offense. And, our honorable behavior speaks volumes of nature of the forgiving and gracious God we serve. I believe having this prayerful, kind attitude toward our offenders is the only real way to heal from offense and to move forward in a healthy way.
Get some perspective.
I find in situations where I have been offended (especially repeatedly and by someone who you expect more from), it really helps to take a step back from the situation. To even attempt to view the situation as an outsider. In the history of humanity and all misdeeds, just how awful is this offense? A snub or unkind words or betrayal seem rather insignificant when I do this.
And as a Christian, I take it one step further and consider my own offenses against Christ—ones that ultimately resulted in his death. I have yet to face an offense that compares, even the worst ones I have faced. Pondering this always gives me a good dose of humility and perspective.
Meditate on good things.
I think our natural inclination as human beings is to dwell on the negative, to focus on what is going wrong in life. So, we when we are offended, unless we are intentional, we are likely to ruminate on the offender(s) and offense. Instead of allowing yourself to do this, meditate on good, positive, and uplifting things. Write down the things you are grateful for in a notebook. Read scripture, pray, or listen to inspirational music. Call an upbeat friend (only, don’t discuss the offense).
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
I have found that expecting nothing when it comes to an offender is for the best. If I expect an apology or different behavior, I am likely to be disappointed. Having low or no expectations for the present or future when it comes to an offender has been a way I protect myself from being hurt repeatedly by the same person/people. Then if the person does apologize or changes their behavior towards me in a positive way in the future, I have a lot to celebrate. But if they don’t, I am not continually disappointed and left with a festering wound that won’t heal.
Set healthy boundaries.
While I absolutely think we are to not repay an offense with an offense, I also believe it is good to put boundaries in place. If you are continually snubbed and ignored by someone, perhaps it’s time to consider that friendship/relationship is already over. If you are being used and not valued by others, perhaps it’s time to move on and find a place where people treat each other with kindness and respect. If you are being bullied and manipulated (In any way. There is a such thing as spiritual bullying.), perhaps you should kindly put your foot down or walk away.
This list by all means is not comprehensive. I’d love to hear any wisdom/ideas you have on this subject!
P.S. A post on forgiveness.