Welcome to WEEK ONE of a three-part “excavation series.”
We’re about to help you dig into your life and unearth conditions holding you back from building the best relationships possible.
The ground-breaking process of building lasting relationships involves others, for sure, but it’s an inside job first. You have to be willing to look inside yourself to cultivate the best conditions for connection and growth. This kind of excavation can be fun, but emotionally muddy. But you are worth it!
Each week we’ll help you identify and begin to remove conditions that keep you from building relationships well. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a starting point for forward movement in your life.
This first week is all about offense.
Why are we tackling this BIG topic first?
You know how this works. Remember those conversations you left unable to hear the discipline of someone who cared? What about the personal affront you internalized because someone didn’t share your point of view? Maybe it’s the injustice felt by an argument that didn't go your way?
These stones of offense are hindering you right now.
They’re also stunting the growth of who you are meant to be.
The truth is, we all need correction. We all need someone to challenge the way we think. We all need to agree to disagree without taking it personally. We all need to forgo our right to be right.
This blog is about how to stop the hold of offense on your life. It’s time to ghost your past and get moving into the good ground of relationships!
If you were visited by “the ghosts” of past offenses, like Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” where would they take you? What would you hear? What would you wish you could change?
Would they take you back to a moment where you were wronged, so you got angry and vowed to protect yourself from ever experiencing that again?
Maybe you’d revisit a performance evaluation and hear again the hard (albeit true) review that was never processed well and has since had a negative impact on your engagement with authority figures?
What if you were back in that defining conversation—the one where someone you trusted to treat you with honor and respect broke that trust and seared your mind with words you can’t forget?
The ghosts of past offenses don’t need to be invited to play a starring role in your life, do they?
If you’ve ever been hurt, angry, disappointed or frustrated and held onto that hurt, you’ve experienced offense.
It’s there, like a haunting refrain, reminding you of past hurts, personal injuries and experiences. It’s there, job to job, relationship to relationship. It’s there, directing your steps and impacting how fully you experience life.
The parable of the soil (sower) in the Gospels likens an offended heart to ground that doesn’t get enough moisture. It’s almost good. Things start to grow. But just when they’re sprouting up, something stunts their growth (Luke 8:6 NIV).
This is the impact of stony ground.
This ground isn’t like the beautiful, planned stone gardens you see on HGTV. These stones aren’t for decorative purposes.
The stones of offense cover good ground. They keep the past in the present, haunting your everyday decisions.
We’ve had some stones in our life! Can you relate?
Just when you start to trust a neighbor or colleague or someone from church, they let you down. Maybe they say something hurtful or forget an important coffee date with you. Maybe they critique you, your family or your work when you didn’t ask for it. Maybe they don’t include you in something you expected to be a part of.
It would be great if you could shake everything off, but most moments stay with us because of other similar moments that were left unaddressed. This is how you collect stones of offense.
You get familiar, even comfortable with offense. You learn how to work around it. You even use it as a “safeguard” for your future, saying to yourself, “NO ONE is ever going to do that to me again!”
The problem is, what’s familiar to you can still be seen (and stumbled over) by others because it comes out of you in your words and your actions. You’re always close to it.
For example, stones of offense might show up as:
When stones of offense stay in your life, they change how you live and act toward others.
The more stones you gather, the harder it is for any kind of growth to happen. You have to do some excavating to get back to good ground.
Removing stones of offense is a lot like ghosting your past.
For those of you who need a little Urban Dictionary refresher, ghosting is slang for cutting off all communication, canceling plans, or just dropping someone for no reason.
When you ghost a past offense, it’s the same as saying you drop it. Remove it. Release it.
NO... you don’t reposition how you talk about it, maybe changing a word or two to soften the way it comes across to others.
NO… you don’t shift it, moving the offense out of conversation with people who know you well to conversation with unsuspecting new acquaintances.
NO… you don’t stack it or place it on the side for future reference, just in case you need to let someone know they’ve crossed a line you vowed never to cross again.
Ghosting offense is a firm decision to remove that thing… that past hurt… from your life for good.
You don’t have to continue giving the past premium status in your present.
Reach into your past. Look back at what you’re holding onto, and don’t assume it’s there for a good reason.
Resolve to release. Commit to letting go of what doesn’t serve your life or your relationships well. This will involve forgiving yourself and forgiving others.
Restore with God’s Word. Refill the places where stones have been removed with God’s promises. This is the nourishment needed to restore the condition of your life and your relationships to good ground.
When you commit to ghosting your past and removing the rocks of offense, you create space for simple next steps grounded in the goodness of God’s Word. This is how you start to make room for good growth in your life and relationships.
This is an important process, so we’ve customized a Blueprint to keep you moving all month long. It’s designed to help you dig in and remove what doesn’t belong in your heart and life.
You can find it here. Just print it out and follow the instructions.
Each week of work will lead you to practical next steps for building relationships well.
Until next week,