The spirit of offense is a tricky one. It comes disguised in seemingly innocuous ways. Brought on by a simple comment or action, we spin, coming up with all the hidden meanings and reasons why we should be slighted.
On the other side, when someone takes our words or deeds out of context, when the wrath of one’s anger gets released upon us, it can slap hard like a cold winter wind upon our countenance. It bothers and befuddles us, causing us to wonder how our intentions could be so misconstrued.
When we are on the receiving end, we can see how easily things — feelings, emotions, pride — can unravel. We ruminate on what was said and how egregious it was. We go over and over it in our minds, conjuring up the perfect comeback.
This is the precipice from which relationships jump into the abyss of destruction.
We all understand that hurt people, hurt people. When we are anxious or afraid, we lash out. On the causal spectrum, people can harbor deep resentments and even deeper insecurities that cause them to act out in all kinds of ways. We do it. And we have had it done to us.
In a perfect world, keeping this in perspective would be helpful. We might allow others a wider margin for their responses or actions if we knew what they had been through. It just doesn’t always work that way.
In my own life, when someone that I care about has slung the arrows of blame and retribution, it’s all that I can do to not let them land, reopening wounds and difficult emotions. When you have shared deep relationship, and then are disregarded, mocked, and disrespected, it hurts. History is edited. Accusations fire beyond the pale of reasonability. This type of wounding leaves a mark.
I wish there was an easy answer. What I have come to know is that the truth always will reveal itself in time. I know that God is our defender. I know that He alone can change someone’s heart and perspective. No matter how much we might want to influence the the paradigm by which another sees us, we are absolutely powerless to do so.
It’s times like these that we have to dig deep. We have to trust that God knows our intentions. And, though others may malign us and seek to harm us with their words, God is there.
The truth is, when someone lashes out at us, it says more about them, than us. It says that underneath, they are in need of some healing, some deliverance from pain that causes them to blame and to project, rather than looking inward or taking accountability for their own actions.
If we keep our eyes on God, rooting ourselves in His ways, we can have Grace. We can release our hurt to Him and not seek to sling arrows of our own. We will be quick to forgive and offer an olive branch, regardless of whether or not it is accepted in return.
Saying this, doing all we can to stay in faith in our daily walk, does not make it right what others say and do to us in their anger and offense. It doesn’t make it easier to bear. It only challenges us all the more to walk in knowing that somehow, someway God is going to turn things for our good.
We do not know, in the twists and turns of life, how things will go. People who think that their actions are isolated, that they have no affect on others, are wrong. Hurting someone else affects, not just that person, but those who care about them. Importantly, it also hurts the one who causes it, because bitterness can take hold and fester within the spirit, stealing joy and breeding contempt that can last a lifetime.
Tread lightly on the path of those who choose to see you with the lens of their misperception. Remember that the fight is not yours, but God’s. And, even though it may not change what happens in the immediate, love them anyway as best you can from a distance. Forgive them. Do your best to shake the dust from your sandals and carry on.
In time, that love, along with God’s hand, will reach them.
It doesn’t make it right. But it makes all the difference in the world.