You’re offended. Someone did or said something that absolutely ticked you off or hurt you. So what are you supposed to do?
Just to be clear, I am talking about the everyday events that take place in our lives where we get offended. These are not major sins, they are more like major annoyances that come from time to time.
It’s when someone speaks to you condescendingly. Or when you smile at someone and they bite your head off. Someone sees you and they snub you. Someone invites your friends but not you to an event. Someone looks at you wrong and you just know what they are thinking.
It is small offenses like these that build up over time and causes barriers to be erected and strain to be placed upon relationships. Given enough time and repetition, they can be the cause of broken relationships.
Here are some common responses to being offended:
- You are angry and want an apology
- You are hurt and withdraw
- You erect a barrier so you won’t be hurt again
- You sit and brood
- You go over the offense again and again in your mind
- You plan some way of getting back at the person
- You tell others the terrible thing they did to you
God wants your relationships to be a blessing. He created you to be in right relationship with Him and with those around you. His goal is for you to be in healthy, nurturing relationships. For this to take place, you must learn how to deal with offense in your life.
I am going to give you Eleven suggestions on what to do when you are offended. Hopefully, one or two of these will help you effectively deal with offenses when they come your way.
How to Deal With an Offense
Make it a Habit to Release Offenses Immediately
One personal goal in my life is to live free from offense. It is a pretty tall order, but it is a goal that lines up with what God desires for my life.
I don’t want to have to have any barriers between me and other people. I don’t want anger and hurt stored in my heart and cause me to bitter and withdrawn.
My goal is to be at peace with all people. I can’t control how other people respond to me or what they think about me, but I do have control over what I think and do.
I want my heart to be tender before the Lord and free from the baggage of offense and unforgiveness. Therefore, I have purposely chosen to be a forgiving person. When someone does something that offends me, I seek to immediately release the offense to the Lord.
I am not always as successful as I would like to be, but I do make an attempt to release it right away. That way I do not have to deal with it later. Someone once said, “If you are going to laugh about it later, you may as well laugh now. The same can be said about forgiveness.
Carrying an offense is never a blessing. It always causes damage while you carry it, so release it as quickly as you can.
Immediately Verify that You Are Offended
You could save a lot of time, hurt feelings, and anger if you would stop and find out if the person really meant to offend you or if you misunderstood what they said or did.
There have been too many times in my life where I have misinterpreted what someone said or did and got offended. If only I would have taken the time right away when it happened to find out if what I was thinking was true.
It is as simple as saying, What did you mean when you said that?” Have you ever had it happen to you? You said something and the person heard a totally different thing. Or you said something innocently with no intent to hurt the other person and they took it wrong and were offended?
The best way to take care of an offense is when it is taking place. One question can make the difference between being offended and gaining understanding.
Pray and Settle Down
So what do you do when you get offended and don’t have time to talk it through at the moment? Great question. My answer is to pray and settle down.
If you find yourself angry or hurt, take the time to bring these feelings to the Lord. He knows the thoughts and feelings are there, so you might as well share them with Him. Pray through the situation. Many times this will resolve the issue and you will not even have to talk to the person about your offense.
Have you ever noticed that some days you are more sensitive than others? A person might do the exact same thing and you wouldn’t be offended, but because you are going through a difficult time everything seems to hurt or offend you?
These are especially good times to pray and ask the Lord to help you. He is a present help in times of trouble.
Ask Yourself Why You Are Offended
One good tactic in fighting against offense is to ask yourself why you are feeling offended?
- Are you having a bad day?
- Do you have an attitude toward the person that causes you to misinterpret what they are saying?
- Is this a pattern in your life?
- Are you constantly feeling offended by people wherever you go?
If you find yourself being constantly offended, then it may be that the Lord has to heal something in your heart. When we have been hurt and rejected it is so easy to project thoughts and interpret actions through our pain.
Ask the Lord for insight as to why you are offended. Why did this incident cause you to be offended?
Refuse to Share Your Offense with Others
It seems so natural to share our offenses with friends. I encourage you not to do this of three reasons.
First, you haven’t talked to the person yet, so you do not know if this is a simple misunderstanding. If you go spreading the news to other people and then find out that you were mistaken, then you have to go back and tell them you were wrong or leave them with a false impression of what took place.
Second, sharing your story from your perspective and the way you share it could cause other people to take up an offense on your behalf. Your sharing of the story may taint their impression of the person and cause them to react negatively toward them. Not a good deal.
Third, the more you share your offense the stronger it gets in your heart and mind. When others agree with you and tell you how badly you were treated your offense meter goes up. With this added support you convince yourself that you are one hundred percent right in your understanding of the situation.
Control Your Thought Life
If you are anything like me when you are mistreated you play the incident over and over in your mind. You come up with a bunch of scenarios. You think of things that you wish you had said. You make up encounters of what you will say the next time you see the person.
As you rerun the scene in your mind over and over you relive the feelings and emotions that took place. The situation gets cemented in your heart and mind. Most of the time the event gets bigger and bigger as you think of how badly you were treated.
It’s not a good idea to let our imaginations run wild. 2 Corinthians 10:3 tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. You are in control of your thoughts. You can take your thoughts captive and stop them in their tracks.
Our thoughts are a playground for the devil. He will encourage you to think about what has taken place. He will seek to fuel your offense. He wants to see every relationship you have soured and broken.
Take control of your thoughts and bring them into submission to Jesus Christ.
Go to the Person Who Offended You
The best thing that you can do when you are offended and cannot deal with it through prayer is to go to the person and talk with them. They are the one with which you are offended. They are the only one who can make it right with you.
If you fail to go to the person you cut yourself off from the only resolution to the offense besides forgiveness. I don’t know how many times I have misinterpreted what somebody said or did, but it sure is a lot.
I am trying to train myself to go to the one who has offended me or the one who I think may be offended with me. I want my relationships in order. I want the least amount of barriers in my life with others as far as I possibly can.
Sometimes it is scary going to another person. You may be one of those who hates confrontation. You feel like if you go to the person and say something that it is confronting. It makes you nervous and you would rather remain offended than “confront” the person.
What if I were to tell you that you do not need to “confront” the person? There is a way that you can approach a person that is not combative or accusative? Would that make you feel better?
How to Talk to the Person Who Offended You
Don’t Accuse Them of Thinking or Acting in a Certain Way
My first suggestion is to humbly approach the person. If you start the conversation by accusing the person of doing or saying or thinking something, you automatically put a person on the defensive. If they feel threatened, they will naturally rise up and protect themselves.
This instantly starts off the conversation on a negative footing and things will rarely get better. When a person feels attacked adrenaline will be released into their body and they will respond with the fight or flight instinct. I’ve actually heard that when this happens blood flow to the brain is diverted to large muscle groups and you do not think as clearly.
Seek to Clarify the Situation
A great way to approach a conversation is to ask the person to clarify what took place. Tell them you are not sure what took place and that you would like them to clarify what was said or done. This way you are approaching them peacefully and seeking to understand the situation.
That way you get to hear what the other person’s thought are on the situation. You can then ask additional questions if you need further clarification.
Tell Him or Her How You Felt
If you need to tell them what took place from your perspective, tell them how it made you feel. This way you keep the conversation about how the action impacted you and does not elevate the conversation into a fight over who was wrong and who was right.
This approach comes with no assurances of success. The other person is the only one who can make things right. They may choose not to care if they offended you. They may seek to justify why they did what they did and not apologize or repent for what they have done.
Ask if You Did Something to Cause Them to Respond that Way
You can ask them if there was anything you did to cause them to feel or respond to the way they did. This gives one more opportunity to restore the relationship.
If you did do something that offended them, then take responsibility and ask for forgiveness. Seek to restore the relationship, if at all possible.
What if They Meant What They Said or Did and Don’t Care if They Offended You?
You Have Done What You Could Do
This is not the result you wanted when you went to talk with the person. I am sorry to say that not everyone will want to take the effort it takes to make a relationship work. It is sad that the person does not want to make things right.
You cannot mend or heal a relationship on your own. It takes two people to be in a whole and reconciled relationship. You are only responsible for your choices. If you made the decision to go to the one who offended you and they refuse, you have done what the Lord expects of you.
You are not responsible to change the other person. That is the work of the Lord.
Choose to Forgive Them
If they refuse to make things right, make the decision to forgive them. This gets rid of the negative effects on your heart. If you are wounded, forgive the person and bring the wound to the Lord and ask Him to heal it.
The import thing is for you to be right with God and right with the one who does not want to be right with you. This seems unfair. Why should you forgive them when they mistreated you? The main reason is that Jesus told us to forgive others as we have been forgiven by Him.
True forgiveness releases people to the Lord.
Let God Deal with Them
When we forgive people, we are letting go of them and releasing them to the Lord. We can give them into His hands and ask Him to work out the details. Let God be the one to work on the heart of the person who offended you.
There are still people in my life that have chosen to end close relationships with me. I am saddened by it and have done all I can to restore the relationship. I still pray for restoration, because I know that is the heart of God.
The only thing I can do is to keep my heart right and be prepared to fully embrace my old friends if they should decide to restore our relationship.
We live in a broken world. The greatest thing that the Lord gives us apart from a relationship with Him is the relationship we have with others. There is nothing else on this earth that eternal in nature.
May God bless all of your relationships.
Do you have a great story of reconciliation? Why not share it below.
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