evangelism | forgiveness | offense

Holding Back Offense When I Can’t

November 23, 2020

There’s this person in my life, who knows where to push the wrong buttons without being intentional.

Our conversations usually start out casual, familial. We go through the customary ‘how are you doing’ exchange, catch up on life, kids, the economy. We then move to deeper, emotional topics until… bam! In the multitude of words sin is not lacking. (Proverbs 10:19 NKJV)

Insensitive! Selfish! The temperature on my head rises up, searing hot like Texas summers when it’s arid and the winds feel livid to the skin.

My hands cover my face, barricading myself lest another senseless remark hurls in my direction.  My eyes shut close while planning the deadliest ammunition. I’m no saint and my immediate response is to retaliate. My delicate heart gashed.

When was the last time you’re offended?

Offense is unavoidable because we are relational beings. In our many words, offending statements do slip through. Not because they are done intentionally. I’m sure the people we talk to aren’t even aware of it.

Some things that hurt me won’t wound you. Some things that bruise you, won’t burn me. We are unique in that.

Normally, they come from people close to us. But they can happen with strangers too. 

Check social media and scan for controversial topics. You’ll see endless debates of opinions, where everybody fights to prove they are right. No one seems to win in these wranglings, ever!

When emotions are hot, when one’s face is flushed, when buttons are pushed, what’s your typical response? Are you like me who likes to get the upper hand?

Here’s what the Bible says about this person.

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.

~ Proverbs 29:11 NLT

Ouch! That hurt my feelings. As the cliche: hurt people, hurt others. Okay, charge guilty! But I am the offended party here. How can I be the foolish one? 

My mind ruminated on the thought until one day a eureka moment hit.

It takes real strength to hold back offended emotions than vent it out.


See, it’s easy to retaliate. It’s easy to get even. It’s easy to insult, hurt and bowl my anger towards others. On the other hand, holding back my emotions is exacting.

Who doesn’t explode when provoked, or give the offended emotions a voice, post it on facebook?

Tell me, where’s the real strength in these two scenarios: release the anger, provoking offense in others hearts, or holding it back? 

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

~ Proverbs 16:31 ESV

Have I no right to be offended then?

Of course, we do. It is there for a reason after all. It tells us an injustice took place and we are the hurt party. The question is not in the why but the how. How will we respond when the offense occurs?

Also, holding back doesn’t mean stuffing it in. It means we don’t hit back at the person who uttered the offense or go on offending others. To diffuse, share it with someone who understands.

***

When it happens the next time around, I shut my eyes close while remembering: it takes strength to hold back my offended emotions.

I tell the person they’ve offended me. And ask for space until my emotions are safe to be around them again.

I then turn to the Lord, beseeching His peace and justice and healing so I could forgive the person. And share the incident with my husband or a close friend.

The offense that took place, simply tells me, I’m human, words hurt, damaging consequences result from pushing the wrong buttons. Yes, I can be angry but I don’t have to be a fool. God’s strength helps me to hold back my avenging emotions.

PS: photo source

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