"You are about to walk into the Promised Land! Why are you jealous of the drowning man with the driftwood?"
He smiles warmly at me and speaks so gently. I don't know why God. Sometimes I feel angry. Sometimes I feel sad. Sometimes I feel jealous. I can tell you these things, right? Sometimes I feel like justice was never served. Okay, yes, I got amazing blessing out of the trial I suffered through. Yes, I got more then what I deserved. Yes, You made beauty from my ashes, for sure. But what do I do, when my wandering eyes and my jealous soul look to my offender, and I want justice for him? I want him to hurt for the pain he caused me?
What is offense? The dictionary says it is "An annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one's standards or principles." Beyond it being an insult, it causes a desire for justice. There is nothing wrong with longing for justice. God says it is in His word.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow's cause,” Isaiah 1:17
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
So justice and the desire for justice over an oppression is Biblical! Yes, it is good for me to seek justice, to correct oppression, to stand up for those who have been hurt. Yes, it is good to do justice. And yet, how do I go about this? I am jealous. I am hurting. I am harboring anger, bitterness, and hatred.
"But he is hurting child." And suddenly, I know you are telling me the truth.
He is hurting. He lost his children, his family, his home, his wealth, his future with us. He is putting all of the broken pieces back together on his own, holding them together with his own strength, and trying to convince the world and everyone in it that he is satisfied. But the truth shows in his actions. A younger version of me, married in the same courthouse. A house in the neighborhood we used to live in, bigger and more expensive then the one we had. A newer, shinier car then the "dream car" you got with me.
I know what it is to be satisfied. Philippians 4:12-13 "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
And I realize, now after so long in the healing process, that my offense was a rejection that marked me and scarred me for life. Rejection. I was rejected. I was rejected by someone who didn't even deserve me, and yeah that hurts. It hurts and it was intended to hurt and I can't help but look back at the weak person I was and want justice for her. I can't help, but look back at the kids who were destroyed by their fathers infidelity and want justice for them. I can't help but look back and think how unfair it is that he never had to take any responsibility for his actions, but instead was able to just "move on" and pretend that we never existed. He replaced us. Yeah, we were rejected and my heart takes offense.
I don't want to sit here anymore Lord, "desiring for justice" and holding on to an offense that is Yours to justify. God, help me to stop looking at the world and finding offense. Help me instead to look at the life You've given me, that is more then I deserve, and the overwhelming blessings you've poured out over me, which is FAR MORE then I deserve, and help me to be satisfied. I want to be satisfied. I am satisfied, because You have given me overwhelmingly, abundantly more then I could ask or deserve.
I realize now that my offense is being triggered by my vulnerability. I was wounded in a specific place. It's like breaking your leg and spending years healing, learning how to walk, and getting back onto this leg. So now, I'm healed. I can put weight on the leg again and it doesn't hurt anymore and it works almost as well as it did, possibly even better then it did before I broke it! But, if someone comes along who knew that my leg was broken in the past, and they kicked it, I might get angry or be hurt. I might get upset, because you know this was a wound I had to struggle through and battle over to get to the place I am now. Your kick might not have broken my leg again, but it hurt my feelings. It offended me. My offense is being triggered by a vulnerability. And now I have to take this offense and vulnerability to the Lord. Jesus warned me.
John 16:33 ""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
And no, you can't ask me to just get over it. I can't just get over it. But I do have to realize something. It's not YOUR fault that I have this vulnerability. I have to do deep healing to grow in this. I have to take heart and take this vulnerable place and this offense to the Lord. If I don't, I will grow in bitterness, which will cause more offense, more wounds, and instead of healing, will cause the wounds to fester. I will never heal. The only way out of my offense is love.
Remember, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
I have to be patient with myself and with others. I know that sometimes people in this world will kick my vulnerable place on purpose, but patience means I give them the benefit of the doubt that it was an accident and kindness gives them another chance to do the right thing. Instead of finding myself in envy and jealousy over the person who originally wounded me, God help me to find forgiveness for them. I don't want to boast, be proud, rude, or dishonoring to them or to the people who I interact with. I don't want to be self-seeking, meaning that I become like my offender and offend others. I don't want to become angry, accusing, or mean. I don't want to assume the worst. I especially don't want to keep a record of wrongs. Who does that serve? It only serves to keep my wounds open and raw and festering. I do not want to delight in evil and I don't want to participate either. Keeping my offenses means I am making myself available to offend others. No, I do not want to delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth.
And here is the truth. I was wounded, intentionally, and with no justice to my offender. I truly was broken and it does not seem that he paid for the horrible things he did to me. Yes, that is the truth. But the other side of that truth, which is even greater truth is that this offense will not define me. It helped shape me and create me into a stronger, healthier, happier version of myself. It accomplished what God set for it to do in my life. But it will not define me. If you kick me, I will not fall. Instead, I will protect others who have been kicked. I will trust people in this world, that you are not intending to harm me. Even if you are, I will not take the low road and kick you back. No, I will hope for better for you. I will pray for you. And I will keep going. I will persevere.
I am talking to you today about my divorce and the lack of justice that my ex husband saw, despite the abuse he poured over my head and my children's heads. This is my specific offense, but we all have them. Financial status, race, gender, sexual preference, age, marital status, or whatever other status that you may feel vulnerable about. The offense is yours, because of your vulnerability and the wounding from your past.
I could be hurt by my divorce and offended that people look at me differently, but I refuse to let this be handicap or something that someone can use against me. Being divorced doesn't mean to me that I was rejected, that I am alone, or that I am lonely. To me, I choose to let it mean that I am accepted by the Lord, my friends, my community, my children, that I am free to be me and enjoy the company of many friends and family instead of the company of just one, and that I am never alone because I've drawn near to God who is my husband.
What could offend me, what the enemy would try to call my weakness, God calls my strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
What the enemy would try to divide with, God uses to give me a community. What the world may say I should be offended by and hide because of, God has used to be a platform to preach His word.
I am not ashamed. The least will be the greatest. What the world would say is my weakness, God says "I will shine my glory here." I'm divorced. This is where God shines. You're young. Let him shine through your age. You are a woman. Let that be His place of ministry. You are black. Let God shine through your offense and oppression. My children are mixed. God will use that as a platform for them to spread His word. Jesus wasn't heard because his voice was the loudest. He was heard, because He lifted up the weak, the meek, the oppressed, the sinners, and the marginalized. He didn't sin or give value to their offenses. Instead, he gave value to the sinner and the offended.
I am not taking on offense, as much as it is possible for me to do so. Yeah, what you did hurt. God doesn't overlook the offense you caused, but He takes it on His own shoulders, so that I don't have to. So instead of being offended, I'm releasing you. You have no more control over how I feel. I won't take offense anymore.