I kinda think that the only way to go through life without ever taking offence at anything, would be if you lived a very isolated, hidden away in a cabin of the woods, self-reliant existence. The truth is, as much as people are kind, generous, encouraging and delightful, sometimes people ain’t all that…..
Sometimes patience is lost, messages are misconstrued, tones are misread……you know..the whole shebang.
We; me, you, everyone, take offence from time to time. Things happen. We feel hurt. And the thing I’ve been challenged by lately is…..what am I gonna do with that offence?
Let’s imagine for a moment that our offence is like a felled log. One of those humongous Redwoods, that once reached long and tall up to the heavens. But now that tree is just a long and lifeless log.
The way I see it is we have two options with that felled tree. We could start up a chainsaw and carve that log up for firewood. Or we could send that log off to a wood processing plant, and that timber could then be used for something practical and helpful, maybe even something beautiful, something that will live on through the decades.
And so it is with offence. Let’s take option one, the firewood. That old felled tree would make quite a bonfire. Quite a gathering could meet around it, they could stay warm and maybe even sing a few rounds of kumbaya. Later on as the embers die down a tad, out could come the marshmallows. But the froth and bubble, the sparks and the pops don’t last forever, and the firestarters are left with a pile of smouldering ashes.
Sometimes we do this with our offence. We make a big song and dance over it. We feed off it, and maybe encourage others to think the same negative thoughts. We want to feel validated, so we don’t hold back on the froth and bubble, the sparks and pops. Go on admit it, it kinda feels good at the time. Like the warmth and glow of a fire is good. But that good feeling doesn’t last. Those flames die down. Unless we pile more felled trees onto our fires. Offence on top of offence. But sooner or later those flames do die down, and we’re left with that pile of dirty ash.
Now let’s look at our other option. Let’s collect all of those felled logs in our lives. You know when you’re hiking a trail and the paths haven’t been cleared after a big storm…and the scrambling it takes to get over and around some of those logs….let’s make life a little easier for those that want to hike the path closer to our hearts. Let’s collect up those trees, all that offence that is such a hindrance, let’s haul them together, load em up on a big old truck, and send them away. Why don’t we exchange those logs for something beautiful? Something that will withstand the tests of time. Something that won’t be a dirty pile of ashes once the spark and pops have died down.
Practically speaking how does this play out? To avoid becoming firestarters with our logs of offence I reckon we need to choose very carefully who we discuss our business with. If we’re picking people to share our inner hurts with, because we know they will be loud and vocal in their support of us….then I reckon that’s maybe not the best way to get some support. That only adds ignition to the flames. The wisest people to share our hurts with are those who seek wisdom from on high, not platitudes from the masses.
If we’re hauling that timber away, then it is out of sight and out of mind for a bit. The temptation to dwell on our issues is not the same. And sometimes the end result of what we get with that treated and crafted timber can be a beautiful reminder of progress, of God’s handiwork if we’re humble enough to say ‘this hurts. I can’t handle it myself. Give me beauty from these ashes Lord. Teach from this dark and vulnerable place I’m in’.
Good things happen when we cry out to God with our hurts. Transformation happens when we haul our offence away and we let the Master Carpenter shape it into stunning pieces.
We all have felled trees in our lives at different times. Should we use these for firewood or craftsmanship? That’s our choice.