Box & 1: How to Overcome Offense When You’re Labeled

Finally! 🎶 At last! 🎶 Meteorological fall is here.

We’ve flipped a page, we’ve turned a corner…🎶 the dog days are over 🎶 … even if it’s mental placebo.

As always, so many words, so little time…I don’t even know how to fit it all in a single post. I will say for all you prayer warriors out there, Juby continues to improve one step at a time. It’s crazy to think a month ago, we almost lost her…again…but now, she’s stumping the sharpest minds Vandy has to offer. No question, your support and encouragement has been profoundly appreciated and will be rewarded with a more thorough August recap later this month.

For now, I want to talk about the box – arguably, the worst metaphysical place to be in and a dimension that takes a word (or thought) curse and places bias-based boundaries to it.

The box is nothing new. We’ve all experienced it one way or another…whether we’ve created it, extended it, believed in it, or even subjected people to it.

Relationally speaking, when we build a box, we often set the edges during first impressions, connect the lines during observed moments of strength and/or weakness, and fortify them in times of transparency. In most cases, the sum of subconscious, past experiences, and worldview drives our perception of others for better or for worse. Given most paradigms are subject to partiality, preferences, even prejudices, the biblical mandate to not exalt the thoughts of man above what God has said and ordained before the creation of the world makes sense (Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 11:33, Ephesians 3:20-21).

Yet, as we all know, this is easier said than done…and after several difficult conversations this week, I can’t help but explore the topic.

‘Cause truth is: Not only do I feel boxed in right now, I feel convicted of my buy-in into it. Discussions rooted in burnout, confusion,and frustration yet fueled by a desire to do the right thing, to follow a Matthew 18 pathway…honestly, I don’t understand why they blow up sometimes especially when both sides involved are on the same team in more ways than one.

In recent days and weeks, I’ve heard my share of deception and bad takes…and they’ve reminded me of youthful days when I first discovered the box, the whispers and passive-aggressive jabs from high-school and collegiate peers. Of course, I also must admit, though seldom, I did the same mainly out of self-perseveration, false comfort, and at times, retaliation…all in the pathetic name of being able to sleep at night.

Whatever the case, I was just a kid then…but now as a professional adult, I’m dumbfounded to its continuation. When good people are committed to humbling you in wrong ways, leaking their insecurities through false narratives concocted just to ensure you don’t think highly of yourself…I’d be lyin’ if I said I understood the move, the angle, and the justification why anyone would think this is wise, let alone constructive.

Still, in this awareness, I recognize the humility requirement and how I must own my proneness to reciprocation. Even in my quest to understand feedback and diagnosis, to make peace, to live in harmony as far as it be with me, I must confess my imperfections.

I need Jesus just as much as someone who doesn’t yet know Him…because at the end of the day, I’m still a sinner in daily need of grace.

I don’t view myself or pursue excellence with a ‘greater than’ lens on account of faith. Rather, I submit myself to a calling of excellence rooted in faith…and commit my effort, service, and attitude accordingly. No ego, self-love or manipulation. Simply learning to be like Jesus learning the ropes of life in an evolving culture with evolving expectations.

My charges are simple:

1. Don’t put people or yourself in a box.
2. To those God has entrusted in your care, in your walks of life, make room to listen and understand.
3. Be proactive and ready to put your preconceived notions on pause.
4. Don’t go out of your way to passively subdue and/or withhold a good thing in the name of wanting to be right.
5. Communicate clearly the ‘why’ behind your ‘what’.
6. If you catch others not recognizing growth and maturity, don’t take offense. Rather take heart knowing God understands infinitely beyond the limitations of man.
7. As needed, in circumstances marked by misunderstanding, negligence, and insensitivity/ingratitude, pray God illuminates the blind spots on both sides, not just one.

By employing this list, you not only abide in humility and your true identity in Christ…but also posture your perspective to know what is of God and what isn’t.

Even if people inadvertently crack the foundation of your peace by not meeting you halfway on the road to reconciliation, don’t react, don’t manufacture a happy ending…just breathe, let go the offense, and keep going knowing you’re known.

The Father gets you, is there for you, and will never forsake you. ‘Tis all the more reason why you often hear me, ‘You got this…even when you think you don’t.’

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Civil Service World