Alta is a mother, a working woman, and many other things besides. Her busy life requires that she wear many hats, and it is a full and satisfying life. But at one point in her life, when her kids were growing up, she realized that in all of that, she wasn’t happy. She was angry and upset all the time. It slowly began to dawn on her that the problem was that she was constantly offended about everything – offended by how people treated her, by not being invited to things when she thought she should be, by how people treated her kids, etc. She knew that this was the cause of her unhappiness, but it took a while for her to really get to the root of the problem. At first, she thought it was the people around her who should change, that the problem was them, not her.
But when she thought like that, nothing changed and eventually she came to the point where she was absolutely sick and tired of being miserable all the time. She was constantly upset and offended about something. She cried out to God to show her what she needed to do to free herself from what had become a huge burden for her.
Because of her need, and her humility in asking Him for help, God was able to reveal the truth to her. That was the first step on the way to overcoming, and to rest, joy, and freedom.
Finding the solution to the problem
“What I discovered was that being offended had its root in many other things,” says Alta. “I had high, self-righteous thoughts about myself, and because of that I thought others should be treating me differently than they were. I was holding myself up as a measuring stick for everyone around me – my family and friends – and then was constantly disappointed when they didn’t act as I thought they should. It all came down to one big problem: pride. This pride led to backbiting, impatience, holding grudges, and many more ugly things. It was far from the humility that the Bible speaks about. (Matthew 23:11-12, Philippians 2:3, James 4:6)
Time for action
“Once I saw this in my nature, I knew right away that something needed to be done about it. God gave me some verses in Romans 12:10,16: ‘Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another … Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.’
“I saw that being offended meant I didn’t have a love for the brotherhood, for the members of the body of Christ at church, which included my husband and children and my friends. I was hurting my relationships with everyone, and it was time to stop blaming that on the others, and to turn my focus to myself. I started to understand that if I was offended about everything, I could not love at the same time. When I was tempted to get offended about things, I prayed to God and I preached those verses to myself: ‘Do not be wise in your own opinion.’ My desire was to be totally obedient to that.
“My mindset changed, and I began, rather, to hold myself to this new standard: ‘Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, THINKS NO EVIL!’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.
The battle to be free
“Giving in to being offended is like opening the door to all those ugly, unloving thoughts. I think I am something special and need special treatment, and I’m so full of myself that I don’t have time for the others, and their needs. I can’t have a rich life in God when I am living in a constant state of being offended. It’s written that Jesus cried out for help with strong crying and tears, and that encouraged me to be just as zealous. What makes me think that I can have victory without doing the same thing? My own ideas of how things should be are so deeply ingrained in my nature that it takes a real battle for me to overcome them. I really have to go to the throne of grace and cry out to God for grace and help. But it is when I am humble and do that, then I become free.
“Overcoming in this area has brought me so much rest – a real rest in my spirit. I have found the happiness that I was missing. I can have a pure and selfless love for my family and friends now. My determination is to give up everything of myself to keep my love strong and growing more each day.
“I am not completely finished; I’m still tempted, but I don’t allow Satan to have a root in me anymore. I cry out to God and say, ‘God help me! You know I don’t want to be offended,’ and then I look at ways of how I can be thankful for situations instead. You can turn it completely around. Things come up and I think, ‘How could they do that to me?’ But then I think, ‘No! I don’t need to be offended.’ I’m a much happier and more thankful person now than I was even two, three years ago. It works. It really works.”
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.