Long ago and far away this might have happened to you. If not, you can always just stop and pray for me. 🙂
What? Me? Not since yesterday, right!!
The word itself even ticks me off as I tick off the statements or actions throughout my life that have sent me spiraling into an ugly place in my mind. You know …that room you’ve reserved in your brain to ruminate –turn over and over–what somebody said or did –complete with conversations echoing of a sharp, sarcastic or mean response that you wouldn’t actually say out loud to anybody but it sure feels good to have it in your mind, right? However, ruminating ugly only makes ugly grow larger until ugly takes over the whole space.
You see, after my sweet Mama died, something in me broke and when it did, it broke open all kinds of emotional messes that need healing. Emotional abandonment issues …rejection …insecurities …anxieties –just to name a few.
Some deeper issues were brought to light at one such counseling session last week, only to be followed up by two other emotional “gatherings” in the same day — back to back. This left me doing what I do best these days…walking it out with Jesus for miles! It’s as if I was wound up like one of those little toy cars and somebody set me out on a sidewalk to buzz down the path until I finally ran out of tension. This was one of those days…
On this particular walking-out-the-tension-session, I called my husband with a simple request. His answer derailed me. It wasn’t intentional. He was just thinking his answer out loud but it came across harsh to me in the moment. Little did he know how the earlier part of my day had gone and that my emotional tank was on empty. He had no idea his simple answer would unhinge the last bolt that was barely holding the door in place.
The door opened and the floodgate of unhealthy emotions started to pour in … the lies of the enemy that say, “You’re an idiot!” “That was a stupid question!” “You’re not smart!” “Your ideas aren’t worth a dime.” “Your thoughts make no sense at all!” Yeah …that! I fought the urge to hang up on him but in my mind, I hung up and began to put up a barrier between us. Oh!, and behind that barrier I rehearsed and ruminated on all things hurtful to me. Yep! Not gonna lie. It was not pretty!
And the truth is …
Ruminating begins to remodel our mind …making more room for whatever we keep thinking about.
However, God had already made a way out for me earlier in the week complete with a follow-up visit after the event. You see, days prior, He had me run across a video blog/devotional, “Help Me Let the Offense Go“–by Kristi Watts (former 700 Club Co-host & author of Talk Yourself Happy ) and another video devotional by a local friend, Dee Knight–“Gideon Bible Study: Fearful but Faithful“. (See full links below) Side note: Pay close attention to what you see and hear today. You might just need it in the days to come.
It was Dee Knight’s words that reminded me how spiritually damaging ruminating over offenses can be …
“Our offenses can be idols if we exalt them over our devotion to God” (Dr. Dee Knight)
And the words in Kristi Watts’ video blog that began another kind of pondering about these “fences” …
“Talking about the offense all of the time keeps the fence alive or keeps the offense alive…When somebody has offended us don’t we automatically put a fence up between them and us?”
And I thought about what she said for a long time …
Isn’t it the truth–when we’re offended, we build a fence around ourselves trying to protect ourselves from another possible wound or offense …or as a shield against those fiery darts that come in the form of words that burn or sting! We not only put up a fence but we often close the gate on that relationship and lock it right up…locking ourselves right in! But the problem with locking ourselves in behind the gate …we’re alone with our thoughts with no other voice to balance the teetering emotions!
Another problem with looking at others through fences we’ve erected is that our view is almost always shaped by that grid of the “offense” and the whole picture–the panoramic view–is not seen. Unfortunately, it’s in these moments one of the pickets pops off the fence and aims right at us causing a very serious “plank-in-your-own-eye” injury! Painful. Disabling. Loss of vision.
If we were to look at the panoramic view, we might see other factors or emotional stresses in the visual field of that other individual. It might reveal some previous hurt or wound that allows that person to only see through a limited space. It might be that the other individual just thinks and dialogues in a different way. Not wrong. Just different.
And hadn’t I just heard Ernest Dailey speak wisdom over a young man at his 18th birthday when he said, “Your relationships will only go as far as your healing.” Since my healing is in the “not yet” phase, so are my emotions in relationships. Because of that, it’s worth it for me to keep walking and working this out for the sake of those I love…however painful it might be!
And through all of this, I found this hope…
God is making a way out for us– the GATE! He is always the door to freedom and redemption and restoration. We can enter in! A way out is always available.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
What if … while we were thinking we were locking others out, we were the ones actually being locked up all along.
Let’s help each other lift those stiff, worn out hands that have held on to those offenses way too long. Unlock the gate. Swing it wide open!
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)
What if the grass really is greener on the other side!
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165 KJV)
So what’s your secret to working through offenses? Leave a comment below… I’m pretty sure I need all the help I can get.