Our journey to becoming our full selves is never smooth. Along life journey we will have to learn how to weather the often unpredictable knocks that will come our way – and to realise that how we will interpret an offence depends very much on who we are and where we’re coming from.
Offence is not always outright. It comes in different forms. Sometimes it’s more subtle, and at times when we take offence, it wasn’t meant as we took it at all.
Each of us has a dominant pattern of response that we have learnt, and each way has both a positive and a negative side to it. Though challenging an offender may be our attempt to equalize the power imbalance, we may quickly realise that this actually makes a situation worse and that we have ended up getting even more hurt.
If we tend to take the stance that we are to blame, and back off, we may get stepped on even more and carry unforgiveness for a long time. Equally, blaming others leaves us as victims, unable to free ourselves. Withdrawal gives us a chance to think things through, to clarify what took place and to gather ourselves before speaking our truth.
It takes courage to reflect and to come to understand why a particular nerve was hit by a hurtful comment or gesture. When confronting the offender it will help to avoid reactive accusations like, “You…xyz!!”, to a more personal, “When you…I feel…”. Hopefully both sides can learn from what happened and if not it’s then up to us to have done what we could to be real and transparent in trying to bring about peace. We are not meant to remain the victims of offences, but to grow through them, developing our relational muscles as we work towards resolution and healing of what has hurt us in life.