I was struggling for air, feeling as if I’d been holding my breath for ages. My heart was literally racing. I had that sick feeling in my stomach, which for me is indicative of shock, trauma even. As my eyes adjusted to the surroundings of my bedroom, I found myself groping about in the space between dream and presence, trying to distinguish fantasy from reality. What was going on? And why was my body reacting this way? I felt as if I had ran miles through some sort of “upside down” alternate universe (that’s for you Stranger Things groupies), in which I had been weighted down with feelings of fear and shame.
Then it all came back. I remembered the dream. I had told off, and I mean SERIOUSLY told off, someone who had deeply hurt me this past year, vomiting out all that I felt was justified. However, any momentary satisfaction of speaking my mind was quickly followed by an avalanche of feelings leaving me feeling completely defeated. I was faced with an ugly truth – I was harboring a spirit of offense. I knew God was asking me to deal with this monster who promised a lie of satisfaction, yet delivered defeat.
We’ve all heard it… “Choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Yet even though this truthful analogy exposes the evils of offense, we still find ourselves struggling to end our love affair with this destructive monster.
Why is it so difficult to let go of offense? If we know that nothing good can come from entertaining this ugly creature, why do we continue to invite him into our lives? Could it be that we mistakenly perceive that parting ways will ultimately result in a level of powerlessness, exposure and vulnerability? Does offense become a companion that we are afraid to live without?
The truth is that by making an intentional decision (sometimes a hundred times a day, if that’s what it takes), to release offense from our white-knuckled grip, we actually place ourselves in a very powerful position, demolishing the lie that holding onto offense will bestow strength in our lives. We humbly give up the illusion that we have a “right” to be “right,” which not only requires great courage, but incredible humility and trust…believing that the One who claims to love us first, will set all things right in the end.
Taking all of this into consideration, I’ve been thinking, perhaps more than in past years, about my responsibility in preparation for a more blessed, peaceful, and even miraculous 2018. What can I do to set myself, as well as my family, up for success in this upcoming year? What is my part to play? How can I free myself from any bondage of offense threatening to limit Christ in me?
In Mark 6:1-6, we are told that Jesus returned to His hometown, wherein he begins to teach in the synagogue. Although many were “astonished” at His wisdom and mighty works, there were also those who were offended at Him. “Who in the world does He think He is?! For goodness sakes, He’s just the son of a carpenter!" Ultimately, this perception of offense resulted in His not doing mighty works and the miraculous being limited. The choice of being offended, insulted even, prevented those who thought they knew best, from living a blessed life.
I’ll be honest, the possibility of this in my own life scares me to pieces, driving home a powerful point that when we choose offense, we limit the miraculous in our lives. The mistaken perception that holding onto offense gives us power, is perhaps the greatest of all deceptions. Truth actually lies in the power that is released in and through us when we choose to extended that which only we can extend – forgiveness.
As I ponder this invitation to make way for God’s goodness in my life in 2018, I find myself taking inventory. Where and of whom do I hold offense? That dream, which quite honestly, made me want to go major Thelma and Louise on the one that inflicted injury upon not only my heart, but the heart of the one I love most, causes me to authentically own the truth that even the mere entertainment of retribution enslaves me.
So what am I going to do about it? I am going to take care of business. I am bravely and confidently choosing to forgive and release. And although this choice may have to be made hundreds of times each and every day, it is a choice that I am choosing to make over and over again, ultimately resulting in my head and heart catching up with that which truly is divine – true freedom in Christ Jesus.
Should you find any familiarity in my confession and journey, I invite you to take the first step and pray the following prayer with me:
PRAYER: Jesus, I thank You for forgiveness. Thank You for forgiving me – the greatest of sinners. I praise You for not holding my sins against me and sending them as far as the east is from the west. I relinquish the lie that I have a right to be right. I pray that you enable me to forgive others with the same forgiveness that you have given me. Help me to love as You love, serve as You serve, and bless as You bless. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Please know that you are loved, valued and appreciated. And you have been given everything you need to forgive, as Christ has forgiven you.