A recent run got me thinking about how easy it is to get offended.
It all started when a friend’s response to my absence caught me off guard. We don’t talk everyday but quite recently and suddenly she was gone…poof. I was so confused. What had I said or done? Where did I go wrong? Did she misunderstand me? Did I misunderstand her? Work and other commitments had kept me busy, and I hadn’t heard from her so why was she caught up by the silence? Why was it ok for her to be silent but not for me? I was so confused, and I caught myself getting mad and miffed. It took a moment to calm down.
Like a bull horn, I heard in my spirit, ”Guard your heart!!” Why? When I take offence, there is a deeper issue at hand. Sometimes our personal state of heart and mind make us susceptible to being offended and that is why we have to keep our hearts guarded.
Keep your heart with all diligence (guard your heart), For out of it spring the issues of life. Prov 4:23
I remembered Jimmy. He loved teasing people and it often overboard. He thought it was all good fun except, one person in the office, we’ll call her Purity, was hyper-sensitive so she all jokes to heart. It was obvious to everyone that he didn’t mean anything by them but to her…it was true and real.
Purity and Jimmy used to sit near each other but one day it all came to head and she got so mad at him. She wasn’t one for open confrontation and when she reached her limit, she asked a colleague who sat clear across the room if they could switch desks. Once they agreed, she waited until most people had left on Friday then moved all her ready for Monday.
Over the weekend, Jimmy had done some introspection of the situation and realised that he had overstepped the bounds. He came in on Monday morning ready to apologise and move on but it wouldn’t be as simple as he thought. Purity was the master avoider so he couldn’t get her to have the conversation as easily as he had thought.
She was so offended that she put every barrier she could think of in place. Not only had she changed her sitting position, she had taken up a desk just outside the boss’s door so it was hard for anyone to go there and discuss things. She had also signed up for a new project and the spent the next two weeks in strategy and planning.
Was Jimmy the cause of her pain? Yes and no. Was there anything he could do to avoid the hurt? Yes. Was she responsible for her response? Absolutely. Did they find a way to resolve it? Eventually they talked but the damage was done and they were never able to be friends or even friendly colleagues. They simply opted to work together respectfully.
It is important to understand ourselves and those we associate closely to avoid offence.
We all respond differently to offense yet we must all be careful to deal with it as quickly as possible. Ephesians 4:26-31 speaks to me very clearly about letting go of anger, bitterness, wrath and evil in some really actionable steps.
Be angry but do not sin: Christ himself had instances of anger. Remember the time he whipped guys in the temple? Remember when he called the Pharisees a brood of vipers? He was angry but he did not let it fester rather he let it out and stood firm on the word of God. This must be our pattern. Yes you or I will get angry. However, the solution lies in digging up the root cause and dealing with that. I like to ask myself, why did X trigger that anger in me? Am I really mad at X or are other things in my life causing my emotions to be unsteady hence my eruption? What is my part in this situation? Is there another way out? I remember I blew up at someone recently over a very small thing and when I tracked it, the anger was from a very different place but it came to the surface because of a response from another. Uncover the real source or cause of the anger.
Do not let the sun go down on your wrath: This means you have to deal with the offence rapidly and not let it fester. Do not hold onto it or turn it over and over in your mind. Remember the instance where I blew up at someone but the cause was something else? I had to go back to the real matter and deal with it. Why? If I don’t, it will continue to fester and I will continue to explode on and hurt people who aren’t the cause and don’t know the real reason. It is like having a painless boil that looks like pimple on the surface but under the skin…it is different. One day, the pain will come to the surface and unless you have it proper cut and drained, the insides will always remain infected and will pass the infection to other parts of the body. Deal with the root cause of the anger until it is done.
Do not give place to the devil: Unresolved anger, frustration, negativity etc. gives darkness a through pass into your life and my life. It gives him a place to hang his jacket and the opportunity to invite his counterparts to join him (Matt 12:43-45). It opens us up to trouble we cannot see right then. I believe that his moves are so subtle that when he tries to take up residence, unless you are vigilant and dealing with offence actively, you will miss the attack and by the time you realise it, you are under oppression, prone to many forms of corruption and the road out of there will be longer and harder. Be vigilant to guard your space and place.
Give the Holy Spirit space: One thing I know about the Holy Spirit is that He is gentle and does not clamour or fight for space. He is never aggressive but speaks the word of God to us and calls us to respond. He is deeply grieved when we do not hear or respond to His prompting because our lack of response limits His ability to move in our lives and it also impacts our ability to be the effective servants of God and game changers in our generation for Him. Let us learn to be still and hear the voice of the Spirit of God, for He guides us into all truth.
Very often, we take offence and justify ourselves because the other person hurt us or took something from us. We even call people close to us, tell them the story and they agree that our hurt feelings are justified and we hold our ground. However, could it be that God wants you learn to forgive and share love? Could it be there is something in you He is highlighting through this instance? Could it be that this is the cusp or ledge or gateway to new revelation and we are holding offence? Let’s stop hiding and move on through life at God’s pace
Acknowledge the hurt and uncover the root cause.
Take it to the Father for review.
Identify you part in the situation and the lesson to learn.
Extend forgiveness for the sake of your own soul.
Bless the person and invite the Father to watch over them.
Get back to living your life to fullness God has designed for you.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give [a]place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary [b]edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [c]clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Eph 4:26-31 NKJV
One morning I sensed to add a jog to my workout. I used to be a cross country runner until my chest and knees begun to trouble me. I remembered the pain that stopped me in my tracks and now I was to add it to the weekly workout. How? Why would I do that? Yet this urgency to add running to the plan grew every day. It became clear that I had to add it urgently.
I had to conquer my fear…once and for all
The first few days I almost cried. I really struggled the first day but it became clear that I had to believe it that I could do it and then walk by faith. It was so hard to keep going. I focused on 100 steps running and 100 steps walking then when there was a semblance of rhythm, it grew to 3 minutes jogging and 5 minutes walking to 500 meters and so on. The thing I had to get past every time was the invisible barrier of my personal limits and every time I crossed the strain barrier something within me broke and changed.
A few days later, as I reached that invisible barrier at 6000 steps, my body screamed to stop but my mind refused. I acknowledged that I was tired but I understood I could and indeed must overcome this barrier. I had to face the strain in my body then make the choice to do different, go further, keep moving. I spoke to my mind and said, “you can do this chica…you can do this. Just take another step.” As I spoke to myself, the barrier broke and my feet moved, I spoke again, and I moved and so I kept speaking until my whole body moved with greater ease. Suddenly, the revelation of pushing through hit me.
All things are possible for those who believe.
Then my Father asked, “Do you realise this is how you must live from now on?”
“Pushing past the barriers in your heart and mind to connect with the WORD I have spoken over you and to you then work to keep rising and walking in absolute faith that all things are possible when you believe.”
Finally I saw it…my new pattern. I would focus on acknowledging where I am, pushing through, refusing to be cowed, acknowledging that things won’t always be easy, but they will always be possible. I realised that the pain in my system was a way to recognise what stopped me before or could stop me now. I must choose to unpack it and chart a course of action for growth and success. Oh, don’t think that I would allow my body to be injured aimlessly, No!!! Rather, I would assess the pain and if it is strain and growth pains, I will push past. If medical pain, I would get the needed attention. However, nothing would stand in the way of my growth anymore because I have no shame of who I am or of my path.
I remind myself daily that no matter the route or the temperature, I will go out daily and train my body first then come in and train my mind. I will be vigilant about my habits so that I only retain those that create room for deep thinking, mediation, questions, connections and growth. I will evaluate my connections and retain those that allow me to grow and let go of those that drain life from me. I can select who comes with me on my way to an outstanding life.
I am no longer tied to places and people who want me to stagnate because that is the onset of death. When my two fitness friends challenged me to up the ante and add running, my mind said no and many people in my circle believed my stories that it is a lost opportunity since I was injured. These two brothers refused to accept my limitations and that opened me up to revelation that has changed my path completely.
Watch who you talk to, spend time with and consult because you become a sum total of them. Choose the right option and thrive
There are days you read something and it says what you want to say. I have learnt to use other people’s words when they are available and are clearer that what is circulating in my mind. Today is one of those days.
I am reposting the writings of a dear sister Esther that speaks as clearly and loud as a vuvuzela on “Self-love”.
This is going to be a vulnerable moment post…rather left field for me but here goes… 🙂
A little while ago, I was thinking about the command, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. And I wondered, how do I love myself? You see there are parts of me that I don’t like or don’t accept. Is that love? There are things I wish I could shift, donate or cut away. Is that love? Its always been so easy for me to give love, much easier than it has been for me to receive love. There are many reasons but it does come down to the fact that at some level I have felt unworthy of love, not good enough. So…in that space, with that mindset how could I love myself or my neighbour as Christ intended.
You see, I have to love me first. I have to look at me, and see me as Christ does. Whole. Worthy. Chosen. Beautiful. Amazing. His handiwork. Foreknown and loved from before the beginning of time.
I have to look at me, and see me as Christ does.
Over the last few months, I think I’ve taken more pictures of myself than I have over the last 43 years. You could say I fell in love with me. I realised that I am His Handiwork and He looked at me and said “Es is good.” Why would I not love what my Father has said is good? And this isn’t pride, it’s coming to a place of acceptance and seeing that I have never been less than. It’s the beginning of an understanding of the gift of His love and His Grace and His Mercy.
When you do love yourself, you view the world and your neighbours with different lenses. When you let God deal with your insecurities then you view the world without rose coloured glasses. You then allow Him to show you how to truly love your neighbour.
I am still on this journey. I haven’t attained perfection, far from it. But I am no longer ashamed of my path. It’s the path and process that He has set out for me and it is good.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
In the past, failure was an abomination. I remember all the warnings we got about failing and the demand that we never do so. Growing up, we would be beaten or questioned when we fail. We were always told that if we fail in school or life, we could end up on the street like the street child or worse the local drunk. Some communities went as far as ridiculing people who failed and used them as examples in stories.
This attitude created a very intense personal drive to grow, stay afloat and rise into places of dominance but it also created a culture of hiding struggles at all costs. It created a generation who would rather show strength even when they are struggling and could barely stand than acknowledge something as going on. It made people despise asking for help and seeking counsel to handle the challenges of life.
Fast forward thirty years and the conversation changes…
Failure is still defined as the inability to do something or rise above a challenge. The change came in the value of failure. It all started with conversations about the value of failure, the lessons we can learn from failure and the strength it can give us. Imagine the response from those of us who were oriented to believe failure is bad…it was so confusing.
I must admit that I struggled with this change in definition. It seemed too out there to be true. How could failure be a blessing? How could it be helpful? How can I gain from it? I grappled with it for a long time, turning it over and over, until it made sense and I tried to deal with it.
It took a series of failures for me to understand its value.
The tipping point was failing in a series of businesses then in relationships. Every aspect in my neatly ordered life was affected by these failures. I could choose to remain stuck or walk through the pain. Who would help me? Who would hold me to account? Would I be able to find the strength to deal? I sought the help of a counsellor and shared the journey with my accountability partners.
This walk through some of the most trying times taught me to love failure.
Failure is the best classroom: school is a place we discover what we know and what we need to learn, and failure is just that. We can choose to complain about the things that didn’t work or identify them, understand the mitigating factors, find ways to deal with the challenges and catalogue the lessons so we don’t need to go back and others can learn from our lives.
Failure is a temperature gauge: You know the new thermal detectors we have at mall entrances? That is my image of failure. It is a warning system that indicates times of reflection, review, and recalibration. If temperature checks are a constant part of life, any rises are noticed quickly, and the right measures can be deployed in time to avoid total failure. It is important to watch the small failings.
Failure shows us where to grow: Think of the athlete who lost a race. They deal with the emotions, including crying then get back to the drawing board. They never give up, change training tactics, diet, and train diligently for the next race clearly focused on the areas of growth and strengthening the areas of strength.
Failure keeps us humble: The knowledge that I am not invincible keeps me humble and willing to keep learning all my days. My past failures have taught me valuable lessons and deal with ego and holds the simplicity and joy of life and the desire to change the world.
Failure changes our mindset: It will either break us or make us stronger and whichever way it goes, is our personal choice. When we view failure as bad we will avoid it like the plague but if we understand its value, we will accept the failings are tools and use it as such.
We must teach our generations accept failure as a key classroom in life.
We must help them learn the value of failure as an integral part of life. Let’s help them to expect to fail first and fast and learn from each failure. Understand why they failed, catalogue signs missed, and errors made, identify the lessons and learn them, practice, practise, practise. When you anticipate that things won’t always work, you are set to go further because failure loses its power to stall you permanently.
Failure is a great place of learning and can trigger great growth when handled right. Choose your attitude towards failure and either thrive or get stuck. Whatever option you choose will determine how far you will go.
When was the last time you shared your life’s journey with someone in need or you shared a lesson, you learnt? Not necessarily the whole story of the mess, but the lesson learnt and how applying that lesson has changed your life.
The season has been very hard for many of us taking us to the brink and even thrown some of us off the cliff. Some of those who haven’t gone over the edge are tethering right there, hanging by a thread that is breaking as we speak. Walking around smiling or at least seeming to smile but broken, shattered to smithereens but keeping on walking as if nothing going on.
Recent conversations have taught me that my journey can help others become more. In some, I was the encourager while in others, I was the encouraged. These conversations didn’t have a set formula rather they evolved from the honesty and vulnerability of the conversation. Some of the questions were so heart rending because they demanded raw honesty that if you weren’t in a space of growth you wouldn’t say anything. The bottom line is, in this season, candid conversations are even more important to keep each one balanced and growing.
Sometimes it was just listening and allowing people to unload the things on their minds in a safe space. Knowing full well that that they are not being judged and will not be judged no matter what and that their stories will not be heard on the streets. Other times it is in sharing the truths learnt, the tears cried, the rants at God and the peace that comes from unloading ones heart. Others it is infusing just the right kind of humour to break the sadness, change the narrative and add life. Finally, there is the deep silence and quiet hangouts that show love, compassion and acceptance.
Sometimes when you have been in a difficult place, you lose connection with your personal worth and value for one reason or another but in a moment of deep conversation you may find that there is value in what you know and what you can say to others. Do not let the struggle you find yourself in dilute your understanding of your value. The path you are on is useful to grow you and then to help others. Your voice when fully developed will change your corner of the world when you allow it to take root.
No matter how insignificant your role, there is a reason it was requested. Your voice is powerful. Use it for good. No experience is insignificant, no voice is valueless. Speak…share the power of your learning. Realise that a lot in your journey can help someone else rise up again, keep walking, hold onto hope, smile again and live free.