3 Ways to Respond When You’re Offended
It happens to all of us. Misunderstandings, careless words and sometimes unintentional actions on the part of others that rub us the wrong way.
But having a strategy for dealing with offensive behavior can not only keep us from unexpected drama, it can shield our hearts from being taken captive by the spirit of offense.
Consider how the typical “spirit of offense scenario” causes drama:
- You are hurt.
- You refuse to talk to the person who has hurt you. Or, worse yet…
- You share your wound with another person who then sides with you and also alienates the person who hurt you.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (NIV).
We can’t control what others say or think about us, but we can control how we respond. More importantly, it’s helpful to remember that, as Christians, we live for an audience of One—God Himself. If we truly know that God’s opinion of us is the only one that matters, we will be able to do the following when offended:
- Realize There Is Always More to the Story
Much of our offense comes from having too little information. There is always another side to the story. There is always a context within which the story—or the offensive statement or action—occurred. And there is always a back story (what a person may have been dealing with that caused her to say or do what she did to offend you). Ask God for the discernment to know if you really need to hear the context or the other side of the story, or if you need to just blow it off. Get in the practice of taking every offense to God and asking Him to show you what, if anything, is true in the accusation or offense, and what to let go of and move on.
- Refrain from Acting Impulsively
Being impulsive in our words and actions often leads to drama. James 1:19 tells us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” If you have to, count to 10 before you respond. It will curb impulsiveness.
- Resist the Urge to Defend Yourself
This step has been the most helpful to me through the years. I can lose sleep at night trying to defend my image, or waste energy on explanations, defenses or attempted retaliation. But none of that is necessary when I realize one golden truth: God’s got my back. There is such freedom in being able to let an offense or accusation fall by the wayside with the mindset that “my name is Christ’s. And therefore an accusation against me is an accusation against Him. And He can defend His name.”
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 15 books including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.