Nikes primed on my feet, knee bent to the ground, the sole of my foot pressed against the starting block, I spread my fingers onto the coarse track. The starting pistol punctures the morning air with an explosive boom!
In the race of life, I wish I could say that I’m so amazing, running with Jesus, that I’m the most mature believer on the planet.
But that would be a bald-faced lie.
I get offended. In fact, I’ve been offended zillions of times. Each time, I challenged myself to forgive quickly. Like a sprinter in a two-hundred-meter race, I determined to shorten the time from the offense to forgiveness. A kind of personal best.
Back up. Rewind. Years ago, on a prayer walk in my neighborhood, I listened to YouTube worship, but I was pretty darned mad. A prayer walk? It was more like a prayer stomp.
I struggled as I mentally reviewed a list of offenses. Several friends prayed for one another at a gathering, but they skipped me. Someone else’s book was promoted ahead of mine. I saw a friend’s birthday party on Facebook. I hadn’t been invited. While other folks were getting promotions at work, the “engine” of my writing and speaking “vehicle”sat idle in the garage. I wanted to scream.
“I need to forgive a stadium full of people,” I thought. “Maybe I can get ahead of the power curve.” After all, spiritual maturity should be our number one goal, right? “Hey,” I thought, “maybe this forgiveness thing is a race.”
And so there I was, on the racetrack of offense, figuring I could forgive them better. Faster. In a flash.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
“Holy Spirit,” I prayed, “Show me how to do Your will and love like Your child.”
My stubborn pride rose up, but I brought each soul-hurt to our Comforter and Counselor, Co-Co. Together we considered each person. He asked me to show a little compassion.
And so, one at a time, I did. Grudges slowly dissolved. What once took months to release gradually took weeks. What took weeks soon became days. What became days, I purposed in my heart, would take only hours. Maybe minutes.
Did I blow it? Yep. Many times. But in the process, I hoped that if I kept short accounts with those who hurt me, maybe I’d grow up. Just maybe.
With a self-satisfied smile, I asked my Divine Coach, “So how am I doing?”
Kindly, gently, Co-Co said, “Take another look.”
Together we reviewed my raw anger. My steel eyes, tense jaw, crossed arms and ugly heart looked anything but mature.
He said, “It’s not about how fast you forgive, although you’re on the right track. It’s about not taking offense in the first place.
“It’s about becoming unoffendable.”
Friend, what if in the transforming presence of God, we wouldn’t—in fact couldn’t—take offense?
How can we posture ourselves so that God’s heart becomes ours? What mindsets do we need to unlearn so that we can empty ourselves and get filled with Him? What fills our souls with the One Who Accepts Like None Other, so that nothing can disturb us?
Kick off your Nikes, friend. You’re standing on holy ground.
Friend, how are you changing your self-talk in order become unoffendable?
This post originally appeared in March 2016. I am happy to report that not one reader has told me about an offense since then! This stuff works, apparently.
Rise to freedom!