Life Lesson #7: Just Let Stuff Go... Pt.2 - The Slippery Slope of Offense
Life Lesson #7: Just Let Stuff Go... Pt. 2
The Slippery Slope of Offense
I accomplished a big personal goal about two months ago, a three week long process. I had about 20 boxes full of paper, letters, mementos junk mail, poems, songs, school work from high school to present that were in my office literally piling up for about a year! My friend Rhonda helped me put them in there a year ago this week! Oye vey!
Then my papers were more of an organized mess and in folders waiting to properly labeled with the file system I started using. Then two weeks ago Rhonda's family came over and helped us paint the kitchen and the girls helped me organize the file system.
It really had been a 25 year process for me! As I and anyone with whom I have ever lived with (36 roommates counting my final and last one ever, Erik) I am a keeper. I cannot believe some of the stuff I kept. But at the same time I am glad I kept some of it for entirely other reasons.
Going through every thing was like going through a time capsule of my life. I came across letters from people I hadn't talk to in years and even letters I wrote but never sent ;)
It's fun to look back at my life from a different perspective: seeing my immaturity and how things were such a huge issue in my life at the time and now how it isn't even remotely on my radar.
A kewl thing also happened during this process of cleaning and organizing: I had lost touch with a good friend that I had in college. We used to do everything and everyone knew we were the best of friends, cause we were always together in college. To this day when we see people from college they always ask about how the other is doing, but somewhere between 1998 and 2000, we just stopped talking and interacting with each other completely.
For the longest time, I had felt that a mutual friend had come between us and they sided with the other friend rather than me. I felt this person who I considered a dear friend wronged me in some way and I walked in resentment and offense for a long time about it. The weird thing about it is that we never talked about it, we just stopped talking to each other.
So in the midst of my organizational and purging process I have been doing, God revealed so much to me about myself and how I allowed offense get in the way of a friendship that God really put together from the get go.
She and I were so similar in so many ways and we were so different in others. But we just Got each other from the start. You ever have a friend like that? You just clicked you didn't have to talk about it just was like two peas in a pod with us.
We shared so much commonality between us: our charismatic beliefs, the novelty of us both being from another part of the country with fun accents and us both being not the blonde-haired, Blue-eyes of Scandinavian heritage - we were the farthest you could get from it! We also lived in the same dorm and I was the mascot and she was a cheerleader and we went to the same church.
Actually she invited me after she found out we came from similar church backgrounds in a school that frowned even some times spoke against the power of the moving and flowing today (they were cessationist and we are dispensationalist - if you wanna look it up).
We were like a secret tightly knit group at our school cause all the Pentecostal kids would band together, who most of were the minority students as well. Then we became roommates and lived together for about 2 years but we were close for about 6.
We have a lot of great and fond memories, but with any friendship there can be moments of tension and annoyance, and we really knew how to get on each others nerves ;)
So in the process of living life together, I got offended and just stopped interacting with her on a regular basis. Even though we went to church together, we were cordial and all and she even came to our wedding but it just wasn't the same ever again.
So in the midst of my nostalgia, I came to the realization that in the 12 years we haven't really talked, even though we are fb friends and I had missed her friendship and antics, that girl is hilarious! So the night before I posted a conversation we had in a class with a note I found
So the next day and she liked and commented to it. It was 3:30 am my time and she lives on the west coast so it was 1:30am her time.
I really felt like the Lord orchestrated for it to all come into place and we started to instant message about what I had posted. After a while of chit chatting, I told her that I came to the realization that she was a loyal friend and I apologized for walking in offense.
She appreciated my gesture, she said she couldn't recall what had happened, so I shared with her how I had been in offense all these years and how I allowed it to come between us.
So We have decided to rekindle our friendship and start over again. We have scheduled a time to talk next week. Praise God for his divine appointments.
You know what is the worst part about offense is one party can be totally oblivious to the offense, no fault to them, and the offended party can just hold on to it forever. The offense binds you up and you walk in bitterness and close yourself to the world
I had another really good friend that I had felt really hurt by the situation that had happened between us. We lost touch around a year before with this other friend ironically. I felt again that another person came between our friendship (which we both admit that this other party did, but I won't go into that).
So we finally talked through stuff earlier this year and cleared the air. As I was saying to my friend how sad I felt that we had lost so much time and I couldn't believe we let this person come in between us, he said in a firm but loving way, "Estreitta, you just gotta let this stuff go! What's done is done! Can we just finally move on from this, please?"
What he said hurt a little bit, no it hurt a lot and i even blurted back... "Well if you only knew what I was going through, he said, "Okay next time we talk I want to hear about it." he had to go and said, "okay next time."
Since everything was fresh on my mind I decided to write it out what all happened, how i was so alone and felt abandoned and he was one of the truest friends i had ever had and it was unbearable that someone That was in my life just poof is gone without a trace..." As I wrote those few paragraphs, the Lord then spoke to my heart, "He's right, just let it go."
So then I began to argue with the Lord about it, "You saw my hurt and pain and the stupid choices I made out of that pain and he would have been my voice of reason he would have been my constant in the hurricane i created in my life, as he had been for years previously. He was so instrumental in helping me pick up the pieces of my Life..." The Lord in all his goodness allowed me to ramble and get it out of my system, then I realized that I was walking in this offense and that the Lord wanted me to be solely dependent on Him and Him alone. I had begun to rely on this friendship more that Jesus. And maybe even in part the Lord may have removed him from life as a result of my neediness need to be fulfilled by Christ alone and not this Friendship that i probably valued more than anything.
I remember an instance sitting on my couch in my dorm where i had 7 other roommates feeling depressed and frantically calling everyone I could think of getting but no answers from any, and flippantly saying, "God why can't I get a hold of anyone, I need to talk to someone!" God gently prodded me and said, "You can talk to me, I am right here!" Talk about conviction, but I leaned onto the Lord at that moment and he took all the depression I was feeling and showed me to trust in him completely and that he would never leave me or forsake me!
Looking back at all this with my guy friend and my girl friend too, i am realizing that's is why I needed to let it go and move on cause this offense has held me captive and I didn't need to be in bondage to it!
Offense is a really ugly thing, you may feel so justified to be offended especially when you feel and others also say they see how you could be rightfully hurt in this situation...
But the word says to "Walk without offense" and justifying your pain rather than allowing the Lord to heal your pain only lets pride, in which we all know is a slippery slope. This reminds me of a story I heard once at church and I often shared this story with others, not realizing that I needed to apply it to my own life:
The Greek word used for offense in the New Testament is skandalon which can be translated as "bait stick."
Now there were these hunters in Africa that had a particular way of capturing monkeys.
The hunters would place a cage in the jungle containing a bait stick that the monkeys desperately wanted. As the monkeys approached the cage, they saw the bait inside and reached through the bars of the cage to grab it.
However, as long as their fists were gripped around the bait stick, they could not pull their hands out of the cage. Although the animals could have been set itself free from the trap, they desired the bait so badly, they refused to let go of the stick, making their seizure effortless by the hunters hiding in the bushes.
When the hunters approach with their clubs, the monkeys began jumping up and down and violently squealing, still unwilling to release the bait. They could have been set free at any time by simply letting go of the bait stick and pulling their hands from the cage, but they wouldn't. The closer the hunters came to them the louder the monkeys would get. But the monkeys wanted that bait stick and could easily be saved if the just let it go! The hunters simply had to approach their target and clubbed them to death. The monkeys literally held life and death within their grasp.
That is a perfect illustration of what happens to someone who takes hold of offense. Whether we realize it or not, offense is Satan's bait stick. This is just another way we allow him him to to kill, steal and destroy our lives. As long as we are determined to cling to the offense, we will never attain the freedom we can have in Christ by just letting Go and letting God do his part.
I can honestly say that at the time I didn't think I was offended I didn't even feel offended when I conversed with my friends. But whenever, I'd think or talk about it the pain would come rushing back into my heart as it when the offense occurred the first time.
I would always say I've forgiven these people who hurt me but I just don't plan on ever trusting them again!
I'm not just talking about the friends I mentioned previously, but there are several others I am realizing right now that i've felt slighted or wronged by over the course of my 38.25 years on the earth - friends, exes, pastors, family, doctors... There are a 1 or 2 situations I'm discovering that I still need to reconcile with and resolve the issue but the first step is absolutely just to let it go!