I love to write. And I really love to be vulnerable and transparent with everyone I meet, even if it means I look a little weird sometimes. This blog is a reflection of every facet of my life, the fun silly stuff, things I’m learning and walking out, things that are very real to me. I’m always in the process of learning, growing, stretching in each of those areas — something on which I place a high value, especially since I plan on being useful in this world. I had someone leave a comment who had never left a comment before, a reader who was irritated that I was on a ‘never ending soul search’ or something to that effect. I don’t see how that’s a bad thing, really! I want you all to know that these posts that tend to get pretty personal, are spiritual and introspective in nature… that’s just who I am and the journey I am on. I am a sensitive soul searcher. What use is it to ignore your own soul? To ignore what’s hurting? To ignore who you are?
Now that that’s out of the way, I feel very prompted to talk about taking offense, haha! Timely, wouldn’t you say? Offense is something we all know and know it well, especially during this wonderful election time, amirite? I’ve heard people describe offense as “drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. It really couldn’t be more plain than that!
I think I was blind to how offended I was. I was so angry with the world that I was literally walking around with a scowl on my face. I remember shopping at Michael’s craft store, quite truthfully My Happy Place, and someone asked me if I needed help because I looked upset. I was like, “UPSET?! What do you mean UPSET?! I was having a nice time looking at these stamps until you had to interrupt and accuse me of being angry! RUDE!” I didn’t say that of course — I mean, confrontation has never been my jam, so this stuff would just fester and boil under the surface until one lucky person would bear the brunt of my issues when they’d unexpectedly explode like flaming fury out of my mouth hole. I mean, really though, how could I not see that I was so angry on the inside? It’s just so easy to blame everyone else when you feel negative emotions.
I would get offended at strangers who didn’t say thank you when I opened the door for them and would usually say a loud and sarcastic, “YOU’RE WELCOME!”, you know, to teach them a lesson. That would make me feel better for a whole 2 seconds. I would get annoyed with waiters and waitresses when they’d ask me if I needed more water because they were interrupting my conversation. I would get irritated with my coworkers when they’d plop a stack of papers on my desk — you know, the work I was getting paid to do.
I started noticing around age 22 that I had a wrinkle, an anger line between my eyebrows that was formed from so much frowning. A WRINKLE AT 22! Mercy. But I honestly thought I was justified in my anger. I was a thoughtful person and really did go out of my way to make people happy and comfortable, but everyone else was rude, no one appreciated my kindness, no one appreciated me. And no matter how many kind things I did for others, there were still those people who were hateful, who didn’t like me. No matter how hard I tried to be likeable, people still didn’t treat me how I wanted to be treated. And I’m sure that 99% of the time, they didn’t even mean to offend me. That is, in a nutshell, what was killing me on the inside.
Now imagine the havoc that mindset would wreak on a marriage. And that was just what I brought to the table, not even talking about Justin’s stuff! Walking around the house and seeing a sock on the floor would send me into a fit of rage because doesn’t he know all I do for him and he can’t just pick up one sock!? It was the principle of the thing. In that moment, it didn’t matter that he loved me — I couldn’t remember all the sweet thoughtful things he did for me outside of that moment where I felt wronged. I couldn’t see that the real problem was that I was chronically offended. I really believe it wouldn’t have mattered if every person I held the door open for said thank you, if all the waiters waited until I was done with my sentence to refill my water, or if Justin walked on eggshells and kept the entire house clean for me all the time, showered me with compliments and brought me flowers every day — the problem was me. And nothing improved in my life until I faced that hard fact.
The truth is, we really do take offense. It’s a choice. But what do you do when you truly can’t help but feel angry, no matter how unoffended you try to be? Because I know I’ve heard that quote “offense is taken, not given” a thousand times and it didn’t help me one bit in actually fixing the problem. I tried, and I personally couldn’t help but to choose offense. I was hurting so much. Well that, my friend, is what I’m walking out. I don’t know it all, but I do know that the first step is realizing the world, your husband, your kids are not out to get you, and that your sweet pure heart has simply been wounded. You’ve been hurt. You’ve been wronged. And really, the anger that boils is just a by-product of fear. Whaa?
For me, down at the root, I fear not having love reciprocated. I struggle with fear of rejection. Why would it bother me so much that a sock is left on the ground then? That doesn’t seem like fear of rejection. But that fear really is at the bottom of every single circumstance where I become offended. I get angry with Justin because I feel that he doesn’t love me enough to pick up that one dang sock, after all I do for him. I try so hard to help people and then they don’t say thank you. They don’t appreciate me. They are rejecting my efforts. They are rejecting me. And that’s upsetting, that’s scary, that’s hurtful. So yes, that outward burst of anger is just fear brought to a boil.
So how am I getting that fear uprooted then? Well, you can sure try to do it without God’s help, but I can’t tell you how successful that will be. All I know is I sure couldn’t do it without Him when I tried. So I finally asked for His help. I asked Him to show me what He thinks of me. I read scriptures that tell me how loved and accepted I am. Because when the God of the universe is in love with you, hasn’t rejected you no matter what crap you’ve pulled in your life, and still shows you every day that you are accepted and beautiful and worthy of love, that fear of being rejected by people will have no option but to go. Because people’s opinions aren’t the stuff of truth. People are all just hurt and wounded and broken themselves.
The awesome thing about getting that fear uprooted is that the anger will go with it. It’s dwindling more and more each day. I’ve been seeing some fruit of that emotional healing in my marriage. I can’t tell you how different the tone of our relationship is, with just that shift in perspective. We’re trying to let go of all the burdens we place on one another. All those needs we expect the other one to meet for us, those needs we weren’t designed to fulfill for one another… yeah, letting those go. Sure, we have things we have to do for each other that are just a normal part of marriage, to show each other we care, to help, to be partners in life — we’re not living in la la land. But instead of lashing out at one another because something didn’t go perfectly and the other one let us down, we’re looking inward (There’s that soul searching again!), facing the real problem on the inside. And you know what? It’s making our marriage stronger, giving us the capacity to handle bigger life issues in unity, and overall leaving us with a stable, loving relationship that we haven’t known before. This process really is bearing much, much fruit.