Offense: A Fickle Companion

…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21

Offense: A Fickle Companion
Photography by Tommy Hig/Flickr

Yesterday, the love of my life pierced my heart with a caustic remark that left me wincing. Have you ever been there?

First, I retreated into the comfort of a pity party. Then the tears came. After the box of tissues ran out, I sank to thoughts of how my value was diminished. I rehearsed my own bitter retorts. Seeking sympathy, I drew others in to hear my tale of woe. After all a good party needs guests, right?

The next time I looked into his eyes, I searched for an authentic apology. I wanted him to be really sorry for the pain he inflicted. He asked for my forgiveness. I weakly agreed, but secretly continued to embrace offense, my companion. Releasing my companion meant I had to forgive—fully. I just couldn’t open my tight-fisted grip on offense because it was my power play.

And, I know better!

I’ve learned, over the years, about the characteristics of offense:

  1. Offense is a fickle companion. One minute, it is a date to the pity party who whispers all the things you want to hear. The next minute, it laughs at you because you are miserable, drowning in the aftermath of unforgiveness.
  1. Offense is bacteria in a petri dish. It starts out as a small little speck. When incubated in the darkness of self-pity and revenge, it grows. Add gossip, and the evil culture thrives.
  1. Offense is a wall builder. It gains strength and height as we dwell on the hurt. Pride is the mortar that cements the walls together. The walls feel insurmountable.

What’s the Cure? Thankfulness

Because thankfulness grows in the Light, it’s important to pray—immediately. Pray for the person who offended. Pray for your heart to be changed by God’s power. Pray for the grace to forgive regardless of the offender’s heart. Pray that the walls of offense will be razed. Pray that a loving bond will be renewed.

I’ve found that when I start praying for the person who offended me, I can be thankful for the gifts God instilled in them. I’m drawn to pray for the struggles they are going through. (Even though I may not know what they are, God does.) I long to pray for favor in their lives. I’m delighted to bring them to God to pray for His blessings on them.

As I pray my heart is softened. My wound is now in the hands of the Great Physician. I’m able to forgive because it is the gift God gives me.

Offense, my yesterday’s companion, is gone. Thankfulness is my forever friend.

More Valuable Than Big Red

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?                                 Matthew 6:26-27

Cardinals-in-snowI love cardinals! Now that the cold evenings are here, I noticed the cardinals are making preparations to withstand the chill. Every night about 5:30, a female cardinal flies to the ceiling of our backyard patio and settles on top of one of the now still outdoor fan blades. She waits.

About ten minutes later, Big Red (as we affectionately named him), flies onto the patio. Dressed in his brilliant red robe with an orange beak, Big Red’s head feathers stand erect. He is a beauty. He perches on the back of a patio chair, looks around, and then flies to the fan. Little Red (as we aptly named his wife) retreats to the nearby holly bushes and does not return. Big Red hops from blade to blade and finally rests where Little Red was sitting. Big Red stays on top of the fan all night.

At almost 5:30 the next morning, Big Red begins a loud, beautiful serenade. I believe it is not only a call to his wife, but more than that, a song of praise to his Creator.

“I’m worried about Big Red. He sits in the pouring rain, cold, and snow. What if he doesn’t survive the winter?” I asked my husband.

My husband replied, “When God created birds, He equipped them to withstand the cold and bad weather. They know to trust Him because He promises to take care of them.”

My heart was quickened as I thought how in God’s great wisdom, He created these beautiful birds. He equipped them for their environment. They need nothing because He provides for them. In Matthew, God says he will take care of the birds. He also tell us not to worry because He cares for us even more.

Tears filled my eyes as I realized that my fears and worries had momentarily overtaken my faith and trust in my heavenly Father. He holds me in His arms every day. Big Red is my reminder of the precious gift of God’s love for me.

But, my heavenly Father not only takes care of my physical needs, He also tends to me spiritually. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to provide a way to share eternity with Him. Now that’s value! That’s love!

Yesterday’s provision for a forever life.