Sharing my experience as the OFFENDER; and why I now can say I’m also offended.
Mr. Peprah Photography
WHAT I’M WEARING:
A few weeks ago, I had a long conversation with a friend who had a list of offenses I apparently committed throughout the years of our friendship. It seemed as though for every year that I knew her, I offended her at least once. Unbeknownst to me, she was harboring these offenses for so long because she didn’t think it was necessary to let me know. But as, according to her, the years went on, and other offenses took place, she decided to have a conversation with me.
Let me admit that this blog post might include some biases- considering you will only have my point of view and not the point of view of the friend I offended. But the truth is, there are always biases in stories told. Furthermore, this blog post is in no way intended to defend my offensive ways or to get anyone to side with me. I am simply doing what I’ve done for four years now: share my testimonies. Should this blog post fall on the eyes of the friend I offended, or anyone who may know of her side of the story- do know that I intend no harm. However, I am at liberty to write as I please so let me do just that.
So! My friend has been my friend for a few years. Truth be told, we are not really good friends. We attended the same “organization,” and fostered a very casual relationship as a result. Those who know me intimately know I don’t have many friends. My husband, my mother, my brother, my spiritual father, and my daughter are probably the only people I speak to on a consistent basis. I do have 4-5 other close close friends who can attest to my character, and I’m sure they’ll confirm that I am not an offensive person in nature. In the same light, they will all also probably agree that I do have a strong personality and I often speak freely with no thought as to how my words might affect -negatively or positively -people.
This friend advised of some statements and facial gestures I’ve made throughout the years that hurt her. She was starting to take it very personally and even went on to criticize a sermon I preached in the past. She said my sermon did not exhibit the love of Christ and neither did some of my offenses. I’ll be honest- I have no recollection of 75% of the offenses I apparently did; and honestly I couldn’t even believe I would do most of them. So by the time this friend concluded the conversation, I felt so heavy and beat down that I started crying. And then I grew angry because (1.) why weren’t these offenses addressed as they happened ; (2.) why was I even crying ? (3.) how could I offend someone I loved and cared about intentionally?
I recognize that an offender does not have the right to tell someone when or how to be offended. Their only responsibility is to sincerely apologize and ensure those offenses don’t take place again. So I did just that. I apologized for unknowingly offending my friend, and I ensured her that I would be more mindful of the things I do and say so as to not offend her in the future.
But after the conversation, I was so overcome with emotions that it took me a few hours to recover. For me personally, I knew a few of the things I did to offend her were really just misunderstandings. I knew if she would’ve approached me at the time, I would have clarified and all would have been well. As a result, I was so hurt that someone that I occasionally checked on, someone whose well being I genuinely cared about, would harbor such feelings for me for so long, and never even hint to it. After all of my unknown offenses, we would have casual conversations about our families and typically end conversations with “love you sis” and “God bless you” – so to find out she had a bone (or bones lol) to pick with me really took me to a low place. And not many things can get me to a low place.
The following day she expressed her concern for my feelings, and wanted to have another conversation but I told her I wouldn’t be able to. I was now offended and needed peace about the entire ordeal. Was I right for holding those feelings? I’ll let you be the judge. I just know our conversation really shifted the trajectory of my dealings with people and also made me realize that I have to say and do less in order to be less offensive with those who don’t know my heart.
When someone offends you, the Bible says you are to go and let them know. As to the timeline in which you are to make amends, I’m not too sure as it isn’t expressly stated. However, I am pretty confident that timeline isn’t years later – especially when offensive person is in constant communication with you. Some offenses are really misunderstandings, and not addressing them head on robs you the opportunity to foster a genuine and pure relationship with your offender.
When you operate a friendship under the spirit of offense, every single thing that person does become offensive to you, even if it isn’t offensive. The enemy causes you to misconstrue their words and actions and have a strong disdain for that person. As a result, you’ll often sow seeds of distrust and fear about that person to others, as you share your story. Because let’s face it, not many people can hold offense within their hearts without letting at least another person know. So people who would ordinarily approach someone with an open mind, now cannot do so as they remember how offensive that particular someone was to you.
He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends. Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool.
When you don’t let an offensive person know of their first offense, you create separation between you and the person. And if I know nothing else, I do know that unity is far more beneficial than separation! (Psalm 133). I have never not been able to accept rebuke or correction. Any *loved one who has ever rebuked me for my actions has helped me to be a better version of me. I take criticism seriously and always make it work for my advantage.
When you don’t tell someone about their offense- you rob them an opportunity to be less offensive to others. So an offense that could have been killed with you, will now be extended to others because of the ignorance of the offender.
You may be thinking, isn’t it better for me to tell of an offense years later than not at all? Yes, in theory it is. But in doing so, you are only allowing hate to depart from your heart and reside in the one who offended you. Now I’m not saying I hate my friend for keeping this inside for years- but I have to be honest and say I don’t trust (1) myself to not mistakenly offend her in the future and (2) I don’t trust that her love for me will be genuine since it hasn’t been for the past few years. So now a relationship is destroyed because of offense and hatred.
In conclusion, allow people the opportunity to grow. Some of us are out here offending unknowingly, and unless you let us know in a TIMELY manner, we might continue to offend you as well as others unknowingly.