These changes have revealed how fragile we have become in our thinking, emotions, and actions. Many of us have become increasingly irritable and easily offended, offering little to no grace toward others. We are mean, short-tempered, and mentally exhausted. Some of these emotions are understandable; however, particularly for believers, these should not be our normal responses to pressures, even if the year is 2020. This post is targeted at people who want to become stronger and better equipped during these times.
As a therapist, I often remind my clients to “take off the offense” before I deliver straight forward advice or insight. I say this phrase after I’ve talked with them about how devastating offense can be to our growth and peace. Offense is not a little thing. No, people have been killed because of it. Lives have been ruined as a response to it. Offense penetrates through our clothes, our skin, and into our bones and bloodstream. It feels like a challenge to who we are as a person. Our identity, our worldview, or our future can all feel attacked when we are offended. I explain this to my clients to help them understand how absolutely unteachable and proud being offended makes us, and that we have a choice. We can choose to not be offended, to no lash out at others because we are irritable, and to hold ourselves accountable to a renewed mind.
The Bible reminds us to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). We are also warned to be exhorted so that we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Consider this an exhortation because our current climate almost demands that we be upset, offended, and militarized in our thoughts and actions. The demands of this age are contrary to the outworking of a Spirit-filled life.
Action Step | Heart Check:
Check your pride. As we grow in knowledge, we are also expected to grow in grace. They go together. If we find it difficult to be around others or if we are easily offended or frustrated, we may not be as spiritually mature as we think that we are. Being easily offended comes from pride. We may think too highly of ourselves, of our reputation, of our status. If we find it difficult to endure others, then we are not being humble and cannot serve others. Instead of being a healing presence in strained and painful times, we dish out harsh words, cutting eyes, and hard-hearts to others.
Action Step | How to response to offense:
Recognize that what you are feeling is not attached to you at all. Imagine it to be a black ball (follow my visualization here). Imagine that this black ball is outside of you, and it represents your offense. It is someone speaking to you disrespectfully or your spouse making an assumption about you. It is someone cutting in front of you in line or some critical feedback that you heard from your boss. Whatever it represents, imagine walking around this black ball, inspecting it. Become aware of what it feels like to be in control. How calm you may be feeling when you recognize that you can “take off offense.” You indeed can take it off! Now, imagine how you want to respond now that it is outside of you. Pause. Imagine your response to offense if you were to allow the black ball back inside you.
This quick visualization exercise can help you slow down the near automatic response to offense that many of us have. We don’t have to be a victim to our emotions. As we all face greater challenges, believers must be renewing our minds and bearing spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God. These are just some ways to help you in that process in addition to proper time reading and studying God’s word and in prayer.