Have you ever woken up feeling consumed by your emotions? It’s like you went to bed stewing on an issue, you drift off hoping it will finally go to bed too, but you wake up with your heart unwittingly wrapped around the same thoughts. It leaves you feeling like you didn’t sleep at all, like you must have wrestled with it all through the night, and through grainy eyes you can do one of two things.
One, you can continue to dwell on it. You can replay conversations in your mind. You can even make up new conversations based on what you wished you would have said! Or maybe that’s just me.
You can justify your feelings to yourself, making a mental tally of why you are right, and why other people are wrong. You can even convince yourself that you deserve to feel this offense. It is an honorable emotion, you decide. But the strange thing? You still won’t feel any better. Your thoughts will continue to run circles in your mind like a dog chasing its own tail.
There is another option, though. You can lay down offense. You can ask God to show you why you’re feeling the way you are. You can ask for a kingdom mindset, complete with eyes that see the situation through an eternal filter.
I recently found myself feeling offense. Red, hot anger, that I felt was justified, righteous, even. But what I couldn’t understand was, if it was righteous and justified by God, then why did I feel so bad? I’ve discovered that if I’m not feeling the peace of God, I need to ask Him why. I need to seek His purpose, His truth, and what He can teach me in the midst of all my mental mess. When I sought the Lord on offense, this is what I felt Him speak.
Do you know why this angers you? It’s not for me. It’s for you. You are offended. You are hurt. And you take that offense right into your heart and ball it up there, leaving little room for anything else. You feel justified in your feelings, but in reality it’s just unforgiveness festering there. And it pulls you away from me.
The word of the Lord reminded me of things I knew, but things that were easy to forget. In the Garden of Gethsemane even Jesus cried out for the cup to be taken. He knew God’s will, God’s plan, and God’s heart, but the part of Jesus that was human man, it had trouble letting go, even if just for a moment. He had to remind Himself, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I needed reminding of not my will, but His. I needed reminding of how to be angry, and this is something we all struggle with. The object of my anger was all off. I forgot it’s not flesh and blood we fight in this world, but principalities and powers of darkness. I was taking personal offense, when it reality it had nothing to do with me. I was placing far too much importance on temporal matters of this world, forgetting the comfort that lies in the eternal solution. I was acting like the remedy rested on my shoulders, rather than crying out to Jesus to resolve it. I was holding a personal grudge, even if unintentionally, rather than seeking personal intercession. I forgot to forgive, even if the offense had become overinflated in my human mind. I had forgotten to pray for the people who hurt me, and that was a straight command from Jesus.
As I began to pray for the objects of my anger I felt an immediate peace settle over me. As I let go of my hurt, that wasn’t really warranted (from a kingdom perspective, anyway), I felt the joy begin to return. The thoughts that had plagued me finally loosened their talons in my brain, and I felt the sweet release of surrender to God. I felt at ease when I gave the battle back to the only One who could fight right anyway. I remembered that righteousness comes from Him, as all things do, and I returned the matter to His capable hands, to deal with it as He saw fit. Who was I to take offense?