Alta has a busy life, and it is a full and satisfying life. But at one point in her life, when her children were growing up, she realised that she wasn’t happy. She was angry and upset all the time. She came to realise that her problem was that she was always offended about everything – offended by how people treated her, offended when she was not invited to things, offended by how people treated her children, etc. She knew that this was the cause of her unhappiness, but it took a while for her to really get to the real cause 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 in the end she came to the point where she was absolutely tired of being unhappy all the time. She was always 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 so difficult for her.
Because of her need, and her humility in asking God for help, He was able to show her the truth. That was the first step on the way to rest, joy, and freedom.
Finding the solution to the problem
“I found that the real cause for me getting offended was in many other things,” says Alta. “I had proud, self-righteous thoughts about myself, and because of that I thought others should be treating me differently, and they should do things in a different way. And I 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 gossiping, impatience, being unforgiving, 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 and 16 (NCV): ‘Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves … Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.’
“I saw that being offended meant that I didn’t love the brotherhood, 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 that God gave me to myself. ‘Do not be wise in your own opinion.’ My desire was to be totally obedient to that.
“My way of thinking changed, and I started to hold myself to this verse: ‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NCV).
The battle to be free
“Giving in to being offended is like opening the door to all those ugly, unloving thoughts. Then I think I am something special and need special treatment, and then 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 always offended. It’s written that Jesus cried out for help with strong crying and tears, and that encouraged me to do the same. What makes me think that I can overcome being offended without doing the same thing? My own ideas of how things should be are so deeply rooted in my nature that it takes a real battle for me to overcome them. I really have to go and cry out to God for grace and help. But 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 goal is to give up everything of myself and 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 control my thoughts 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 am a much happier and more thankful person now than I was even two, three years ago. It works. It really works.”
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT).