by Gloria Stella
What do you do when you get offended? Do you lash out? Do you suffer in silent martyrdom and hold onto the resentment in your heart? Do you mentally replay the offense for days, strategizing how to confront it? Or do you allow God to break you and give you a new perspective?
With as much offense that happens throughout our lives—sometimes multiple times a day—I want to be careful that I’m not allowing offensive people and situations to consume any part of my life. I believe there’s a way to reach beyond the immediate hurts and find something valuable—not just in spite of the situation—but in the situation.
When recently confronted with a particularly challenging situation, my immediate reaction was offense…then pride…and finally disappointment in myself. I thought I had grown in learning how to overcome this particular offense and was disappointed to realize that while I might have grown in not overreacting, my response was nothing more than behavior modification rather than the purified heart that I so desperately wanted. I didn’t just want to act less offended. I wanted to be less offended.
I asked God to show me the root of my offense. As I sat with him, I was able to unpack the impurities in my heart and allow Him to quietly sweep them away. These are the roots of offense God showed me that morning and they have become my prayer in every hurtful situation:
1. Lord, give me compassion. Help me to take the focus off myself and my hurt, and have compassion for those who hurt me (Matthew 5:44). If they have intentionally set out to offend me, then give me compassion toward them for the things they do not know yet (Luke 23:34). If they have unintentionally offended me, help me to understand that most of the time they are not even aware they have hurt me. Give me patience for people’s weaknesses as we are all going through a process of growth in different ways.
2. Lord, give me humility. Let me never begin to feel that I deserve a more respected or prominent position in your kingdom or in any organizational, familial or social structure. Let me never forget that I do not live for my own recognition or ambition, but that my life is wholly and completely “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) for your glory. Let me never begin to focus on my desire to have things a certain way so much that I forget how many times your leading has come through my broken plans. Grow my humility and trust to let you have complete control.
3. Lord, give me focus. Let me never make mountains out of mole hills. I know that You are faithful and if You desire a different outcome in this situation, You are more than capable of orchestrating it. However, if you have chosen not to change my circumstances, then You are using it to grow me. Help me to not allow minor things to distract me from my main purpose. Help me to have discernment for where I should place my mental and emotional energy and where I need to let things go.
4. Lord, give me a heart of gratitude. Help me to know the blessing I have in You. Even if people abandon me, overlook me, devalue me, misrepresent me, hate me or are unjust toward me—You will never leave me. You see me, You value me, You know me, You love me and You avenge me. Help me to not only be grateful for these truths, but to put them into practice by going to You to fill me in all these areas. I believe You are more than enough, so help me to look to You as my source in all things so that I can recognize all of Your blessings in my life even as I walk through difficult circumstances.
Every person’s situation and offense is different. But I have found that praying these four things will usually give me the perspective and posture I need to overcome a hurtful situation and move forward - not just in my behavior but with a pure heart. Once I release the offense, God is always faithful in the end.
Gloria Stella is a film producer, content creator, author, and mom of three young children. She recently produced and co-directed the faith-based dramedy “Tulsa” and co-authored the books, “I Can’t Help the Way I Feel?” and “CounterCulture Marriage” alongside her husband, Robert Stella, who serves as the Free Chapel Midtown Campus Pastor in Atlanta. Connect with Gloria on social media at @thegloriastella.