Recently, I was working with a client on a landlord-tenant problem which led to litigation and trying to help them negotiate through the best way to terminate the relationship and move forward into a new place to live. There had been so much trouble between the landlord and the tenant that neither side wanted the relationship to continue. The offenses perceived and real from each side had taken root to ensure that there could be no turning back from a path of separation. The accusations, disappointments and posturing left only one way out, with the only question remaining being the logistics of the move.
Offense is a tricky thing; one that requires attention from each of us. We have all offended and we have all been offended. The difference in our relationships, peace and even health can come from how we deal with offense in our lives. I believe that the power of offense if up to the offended, not the offender. That’s probably different from many people would view it as they look to the offender to apologize and make things right before anyone can move forward. Don’t get me wrong, apology and reconciliation from the offender is powerful and right but only effective to the point that the offended chooses to release the offense.
If the offended chooses to hang onto an offense, then that will take root as bitterness and affect us in ways that will actually multiply in our own lives in the years to come as that bitterness becomes a stronghold in our personality. The lie in the hanging on is that somehow the “victim” is making the “culprit” pay for their offense. In fact, when the offended decides to hang on to those things that have hurt them, it is only eating them up from the inside. The offender has often likely moved beyond it with little or no emotional baggage while the offended has literally given part of his/her peace away for the sake of not letting go of something. We hang on because of pride, hurt and other reasons but mostly because of a lack of identity. When we don’t operate in knowledge of who we are; an understanding of our eternal Purpose and Relationship, then our identity is left open to offense to protect the more fragile roles we create for ourselves that are ultimately fleeting.
When we pursue an intimacy with Truth in our own lives, allowing for a shaping of the perceptions we have regarding who we are which are often different that what we might have believed for many years, then we can walk with sure footing immune from long-lasting offense. We will gain the confidence to release the offenses of others as we give up the need to impress in order to prove that we belong based on our own creations of ourselves. When we seek and find Truth (which will be found when sought), adjusting who we are to the Eternal instead of the other way around, then we can stand on the Rock of our identity assured of our position and immune to any threats that would otherwise suggest that there was power in an offense to begin with.