I have always considered myself an even-keeled person. In general, I don’t get offended easily. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to people. So I might ask, “What’s the big deal?” or “Why are you getting so mad about that?”. I might even play devils advocate a bit to try and understand the other side’s point of view before I get upset. There may even be times where I don’t agree with a person, but I also accept they are entitled to their opinion or feelings on an issue.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize there on only a few things that can offend me.
1) Outright, purposeful attacks on a person.
2) The misuse of the Word of God.
That all said, I admit that I get angry about a lot of things. I just generally try not to hold onto that anger for very long. I know it’s not healthy. I also know… I am probably wrong.
Once my husband said something that really upset me. Funny thing was that even though I was upset, I knew I shouldn’t be. He recognized all the signs that I was upset and tried to mend it. I admitted to him:
“I am mad. But, I am not entirely sure I should be mad at you. So give me some time to simmer down, and then we’ll talk more. If we do this now, I’ll probably say something dumb and not very helpful.”
I think I surprised him with my candidness, but truthfully I wasn’t sure I should be mad at him. I was trying to handle the situation with wisdom, in spite of being angry. It worked too, because about 30 minutes later, you betcha… I was not angry any more. We laughed about it and moved on.
But, anger doesn’t always work that way. Once, a friend said something that offended me. I called her on it, because this wasn’t the first time she had been careless with her words. I tried to give her an opportunity to clarify her point, in case I was misunderstanding her. But, I wasn’t. I was hurt. I was offended (it was a #2 situation). I was angry. I won’t deny my initial response.
I also wasn’t surprised by it. I had seen this coming, and made some effort to try and derail it but she never wanted to discuss it with me. When I called her on her behavior, she just stopped talking to me. After many attempts to try and rectify it, I gave up. That was when I got a letter in the mail from her. A multi-page letter that wasn’t exactly accurate & frankly tore me to shreds. I was again hurt, angry and offended (this time it was a #1 situation).
And even then, I tried to give the benefit of the doubt. I still tried to repair & reconcile, but she wasn’t receptive. She had shut me out. And that was when I decided that I just couldn’t be angry anymore. Instead, I was going to pray for her, every time I felt that hurt well up again, I would pray for her. Things were going ok, until I came across the letter when cleaning out my desk. I thought I had thrown it away.
I was tempted to read it again. I knew that it wouldn’t be healthy, and so…. I set it on fire.
I really try not to hold on to anger, but sometimes I just can’t. Even without reading it, all of those emotions came back to the surface again. A fire consumes everything around it, and so does anger. When we get angry, when we are angry people, that anger will consume everything around us. I realized that day, as the paper went up in flames, she was an angry person. This anger was deeper than what ever I could have said to upset her. Again, I knew that God would want me to be praying for her. So, I did… as the flames reduced the paper to ash… my anger was reduced to compassion.
You may be wondering why I am bringing this up, if I healed from it, and what this has to do with a book review….
Good question… and a great book. Brant Hansen wrote a terrific book called “Unoffendable”, and let me tell you it has everything to do with the story I just shared. And so much more.
His words, thoughts, on the subject of anger in this book… were SPOT on.
First, I had to spend sometime thinking about myself. How many times I have gotten angry at a person for doing the very things (or similar) that I myself am guilty of. I was angry at my friend for being careless with her words, but I know there have been times I am guilty of that too. With my spouse? My kids? That person who cut me off in traffic?
I also recalled that my friend was angry, a lot… about a lot of things. Remember how I stated that I recognized that her anger was deeper than whatever it was I could have said to upset her. I think that when you have lived a tough life, you will begin to believe you have the right to be angry about everything that is done to you. Perhaps you didn’t feel like you were allowed to be angry at those who hurt you as a child, or in a previous relationship. You may begin to think that you have empowered yourself by expressing anger towards anyone who upsets you in the future. You may feel justified in this anger, but the scriptures have a LOT to say about being angry, holding on to anger, and inflicting others with our anger.
But, in the end… we have only cast ourselves as victims. We never own our part in a conflict, because we have convinced ourselves that we are right, and have a right to be angry. Even though the scriptures clearly call us to forgive and to reconcile.
I took these pictures as I was reading the book, because they were just such strong points, I wanted to share them with my friends and family on facebook. Guess, what… I am not the only one who needed to learn a thing or two.
And a few more sentiments like that followed, so yes… a hundred times repeated… I think anyone would benefit from reading this book. It’s written pretty straight forward, and if you have ever heard Brant on the radio… you will hear his voice in your head as you read. It’s a little unsettling at first, ha, but I just rolled with it.
Seriously though, it is well written and thought out. It reads, in some ways, like a conversation. I would find myself stopping after a paragraph or a few pages, shouting out “YES!” or “THIS IS SPOT ON”… and a few times “I am such an idiot.” Then I would sit back in my chair and let Brant continue on sharing how being unoffendable, getting rid of anger and forgiving people is freeing. Not just for specific situations, but for life in general. Because, it becomes a part of your daily life. You simply decide to NOT be offended. Ever. Again. You are not going to hold on to anger. Any. More.
… and you are going to forgive. More. Than. Ever.
* The book “Unoffendable” was given to me by Family Christian for the sake of reviewing. The opinions within this review are entirely my own and not influenced by Family Christian.