Overlooking an offense is actually GOOD for us.
Being quick to become angry is not only bad for our spirit, it’s harmful to our body as well. Chronic anger can make you physically unwell.
When we extend forgiveness in our hearts, even when it isn’t sought by the offending party, we are doing ourselves a big, big favor—body, soul, and mind.
When we choose not to lose our cool, even when provoked, we are acting in our own best interest.
I have experienced it both ways. How about you? And I know from the teachings of my faith and experience (and now from science) that living a life of forgiveness is the best way.
When we give into bitterness or choose to do battle with others, WE lose in the end.
I’ll never forget a time several years when Brance and I were sitting at our dining room table with several church leaders. One of them in particular lost his cool with us for not doing what he wanted us to do. He literally got redder and redder in the face as his angry tone turned to yelling. And this wasn’t the first time he had reamed Brance out.
I was shocked and hurt. I was also amazed at how calm my husband remained, while this person attempted to bait him into his rage with offensive jabs. It was obvious that he was only looking for a fight and that he wasn’t really interested in resolving any differences.
From my perspective, Brance’s unwillingness to lose his cool in the moment was far more level-headed, persuasive, and mature—spiritually and emotionally. The other person appeared out of control.
And later on, Brance’s unwillingness to repay evil for evil was inspirational (although, I am sure a lot of prayer had to go into that one!). It’s something I admire and attempt to model.
We are constantly presented with opportunities in life to practice staying calm and forgiving. Right!? Hopefully not often as extreme as my example.
Here are some things that are helping me overcome offense…
Recognize my own imperfection (aka. falleness). Acknowledging that I don’t have it all together and at times can hurt and offend others (even if it is unintentional) really helps me put any offense into perspective. I am finding that a little bit of humility can go a long way.
Choose not to assume worst motives. Perhaps the person is unaware they are offensive or is going through something difficult. Maybe they are simply tired or hungry and grumpy, and it isn’t personal.
Pray for the other person. I find it difficult to hate or become bitter towards people I am actively praying for. Perhaps that is why Christ teaches us to pray for our enemies?
Think about something else. Refusing to allow myself to ruminate on an offense really helps a lot. Instead, I try and meditate (think) on positive things. In the beginning, when an offense is fresh, it may help to distract yourself. A little getaway, a movie, a lunch date with a friend—anything to get your mind off of the situation.
Be thankful. There is always something we can be grateful for, even in difficult circumstance. Perhaps you can be grateful for an opportunity to grow in forgiveness. Or maybe you can be thankful for what the offense is teaching you about patience and kindness and self-control.
Unfortunately, extending forgiveness in our hearts doesn’t guarantee that the situation will resolve. So…
Separate myself, if necessary. Sometime the best way to deal with offense is to remove yourself from the toxic person or situation. (Although, I feel like this should be a last resort. And obviously, we shouldn’t run every time we are offended).
Ok. Let’s talk! I would love to hear what you do that has worked to help you overcome offense.