I was offended. It honestly felt good. But I have learned since then three ways of how to respond differently.
Let’s criticism get this out of the way, in case you haven’t been following along throughout this series; I am an approval addict. Maybe you can relate.
It doesn’t take much for an approval addict, like me, to become offended.
You see, for those of us who profess this struggle, our need for approval can get us caught up in worrying too much about what other people think and when we do our focus is on us, rather than on God.
I mean face it, the more we want affirmation, the less we focus on the needs of others.
Which is why it’s so easy for us to get offended.
How We Become Offended
Maybe it looks something like this:
What do you mean you don’t like my shirt?
How dare you critic my article, post, paper (really doesn’t matter much what it is) I worked hard on that.
You don’t approve of my significant other, well, let me just tell you what I think about your (blank).
I mean, think about it, how many times a day, a week, or a month are you upset over some else’s lack of acceptance of something in your life.
For me, it had been frequent.
That was until someone told me something that changed the way I thought about my affirmation needs forever. In doing so, it took the focus off me and placed it right where it needed to be, on God.
Approval Addiction in Review
Before I get to that, let’s review some of the concepts we have been discussing in this series. First of all, if you have ever wondered if you have an addiction to approval, you need to go back and check out this post. It should help you answer that question.
Then we talked about our people-pleasing struggles and used the stories of Saul and David to see how our need to please others can keep us or even have us be rejected from what the Lord has called us to.
Insecurity was up next. Have you ever wondered why you feel like you get stuck in this spiral of people not responding the way you think they should, experiencing guilt and shame, taking it out on them, distancing yourself from God and then others? Before you know it you have isolated yourself and are depressed, trying to figure out how you got there.
Well, that is all because your insecurities got the best of you and you landed in a cycle of approval addiction. Don’t worry, I explain how you can break that cycle in that post.
Last week I was really vulnerable and shared how I lost control, and it was one of the hardest posts I have written so far.
You Have a Choice
So, back to that time, I was offended. Are you wondering what that something someone shared with me was and whether or not it helped?
Well, let me unpack this first.
I have struggled over the years of letting go of hurts that I felt like people have committed against me.
At times it can get me in such a tizzy, that my voice can get louder, and I have been known to get a bit passionate about my feelings on the matter.
This was one of those times, and I was telling someone I was close with about that situation.
He allowed me to voice my frustrations and when I finished with my criticisms, he said to me, very matter-of-factly, “You know Dawn, you can choose not to be offended.”
I can choose not to be offended. That had never even been considered as an option.
I mean, I thought I was entirely justified in my thinking and that my offense was only part of that justification.
Can you relate?
Well, it took me a bit to mull this concept over in my head. I thought, is that biblical? I mean, we see Jesus getting angry at the people in the temple, I mean, isn’t that, in essence, him being offended?
After some Bible searching I realized my perception was quite wrong and I figured that out after reading about Jesus in the wilderness.
Lessons from the Wilderness
You can find the story of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4:1-13. It’s in this story that we can all learn a thing or two about how to respond in a God-like way, rather than a me-centered approach, which only produces offenses.
In these scriptures, we hear this conversation between Jesus and the devil. The devil is trying to tempt Jesus into switching sides, taking the focus off of who He was, what He was called to, and why He was there.
But Jesus, being fully-man and fully-God, lays down rebuttals that sent the enemy packing.
In these temptations from the enemy we see three themes emerge:
- the temptation to worry about your human needs (Luke 4:3)
- the temptation to choose your plans and your timeline over the Father’s plans and timeline (Luke 4:4-7)
- the temptation to question who you are and whether God cares, is listening, and really understands (Luke 4: 9-11)
All of these temptations make us excellent targets for the enemy to convince us that we are in control. And if we think we are in control, we have fallen prey to the lie, because as we learned a few weeks ago, only God is in control, not us.
Jesus Wasn’t Offended
So what can we learn from Jesus in these instances?
Jesus could have gotten offended by the devil. And rightly so, I mean for crying out loud he was trying to defame His father. He also could have prioritized His plans, His purposes, His desires over God. Instead of focusing only on his needs of affirmation and self-centeredness. In doing so, He would have completely derailed God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
Dare I say, that when we prioritize our plans, our purposes, and our desires over God’s we too derail God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
We get me-focused, self-absorbed, and offended by those who we think are standing in our way, and therefore, disobeying the greatest commandment to love God and love others.
It doesn’t get much more blatant than that.
If we want to be people who place our focus on God’s plans for His kingdom, we have to choose not to be offended. And in doing so, we open up our hearts to forgiveness and ultimately healing.
We need to want to know God and trust Him at His word.
And, we need to realize that His provision in His our life is much more important than someone else’s opinions.
Question: Which of the three temptations do you feel like you can relate to the most?