Belonging to a family, whether by birth, faith, or choice, develops connections. These can sometimes be marked with apparent contradictions. They can prove exhilarating, but also exhausting.

We love each other, but don’t always align. We toggle between the tensions, finding ourselves at odds and offended by each other. Instead of covering faults with prayer and love, we expose one another and misuse our relationship as an opportunity to injure and retaliate. It can result in cutting each other off or continuing in a relationship that is suffering because wounds and major issues are left unaddressed.

It is not always intentional, but significant relationship troubles ensue as we grasp for healing in the place where our humanity collides. The resulting crash comes on the heels of behaviors that can be hurtful. When we experience betrayal, dishonesty, gossip, envy, or malice, it seems impossible to recover.

It is bewildering because we experience intense pain in the connections where we are also celebrated and comforted by those who seem to know and love us best. In these situations, both love and pain coexist.

Love does not exempt hurt.

It is a common misconception to believe that love buffers us, exempting us from being hurt by those who share our affection. We will all experience the pain associated with offense and human disappointment. How we choose to engage with those uncomfortable feelings will direct our course.

As imperfect humans in a fallen world, our humanity exposes us. It reveals minds that need renewal and relationships that need recalibration with the guidance and help of a loving Father.

With His help, we can face the reality that we will indeed offend, hurt, or disappoint the people we love. Even with the best intentions, they will do the same. While we don’t often aim to harm one another, the fact that we do is reflective of our human nature. Differences often produce a degree of friction. Sometimes, they produce heated conflict that leads to a contentious explosion.

As we walk in and live by the Spirit, He works through willing minds and hearts to make us more like Jesus. (Philippians 2:13) He transforms us, and in doing so, influences our affection, actions, and ability to accept one another. The Holy Spirit works to develop character in us, tempering us to not only withstand, but also appreciate the differences that emerge in relationships.

We can embrace His strength to recover from the hurt of offense internally. We also learn how to release grace to others, thereby making our relationships strong and resilient.

The unrealistic alternative.

Avoiding connection is an unrealistic alternative to learning how to overcome offense. When we remain isolated and independent, we deprive ourselves of necessary fellowship. God has created and crafted us for community: to sharpen, support, and strengthen through fellowship. It is the work of the enemy to divide and destroy these relationships, causing us to regard our brothers and sisters with suspicion.

When we are wary of one another’s intentions (without reason) and choose to magnify human errors and faults, we miss the opportunity to extend and receive the love that comes through redemption and reconciliation.

We can allow the injuries incurred by offense to fester. As wounds often do, they worsen with time unless treated. When we ignore our offense and act as if it hasn’t happened, we breed resentment and bitterness under the surface. It proliferates in the recesses of our minds, tinging our thoughts with negativity and making our hearts callous in the relationships that require sensitivity and compassion.

We may think that we are protecting ourselves by avoiding necessary conversations, but we imprison ourselves and remain captive to the whims of negative thoughts and feelings.

Acknowledge the offense.

Offenses can drive a wedge of separation between the best of friends, the closest of family, and the most intimate of spouses. We cannot avoid offending others or even becoming offended. Jesus made it clear that this would be part of what we experience in life with other humans. (Luke 17:1)

However, we can decide how we will respond to one another when offenses present. Our choices to engage and deal with the offense or avoid and ignore will shape us and our relationships.

Acknowledge the offense, recognizing that you have either caused pain or injured someone else. (Matthew 5:23-24) Pretending that you don’t see what has inflicted harm on another or writhing in a pain you don’t articulate does not serve you or your relationships.

Freedom comes when we learn to speak the truth. We can do it in a way that honors God, ourselves, and others. (Ephesians 4:15) The Holy Spirit will furnish the wisdom to guide our hearts, form our words, and orchestrate His timing for what to say, when, and how.

Process the pain.

When we have been offended, we are often reeling from the pain. It is a time when we need to be comforted and nurtured by the Comforting Presence of the Holy Spirit. While there may come a time of restoration where He intends for us to give and gather from those who offended us, it is wise to first be still. In the quiet, His Healing Balm soothes and settles our raw and exposed hearts.

Offense can be a learning opportunity, where God reveals growth to enhance our communication, establish better boundaries, or recalibrate expectations. As we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s insight, we learn to partner with Him to break mindsets and behavioral cycles that incite and perpetuate offense.

Offense doesn’t just affect us, it also impedes our relationship with the Lord. Loving others is an expression of the way that we love Him and receive His love for us. When we deny the image of God in other people, we do the same to our Father.

The Lord does not want us to entertain patterns of abuse and treatment that regards us as less than who we are created to be. However, He does expect us to engage His grace to pursue peace, demonstrate patience, forgiveness, and a willingness to activate compassion and mercy to others, even as He does the same for us. (Hebrews 12:14; Ephesians 4:32)

Reassess and recover.

Frequently, God intersects our lives with others who are critical to our destiny in various seasons of our lives. As He does this, we need to discern which relationships remain and which need to be reassigned.

The Holy Spirit is the One who ushers us into relationships with others to mutually enhance our lives and accomplish His divine purposes. He also navigates us into pauses where we need to regroup with Him. We have to give space to acknowledge, process, and recover from the pain of offense.

While we may need to make a realistic assessment of the nature of the relationship we are in, could we be cutting ourselves off from the people and places where God wants to facilitate connection?

Leaving our hearts unattended and open to prolonged opposition allows the enemy a foothold where he can begin to supplant his agenda in our hearts. He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

This is not God’s intention for us to experience as Jesus came to give us life to the full, in all aspects, including our relationships. (John 10:10) Tending our connections with others requires that we regularly root out any offenders that would obstruct our ability to hear others and to be heard.

We have to invest in the kind of communication that cultivates relationships and affords ourselves and the people we love time, space, and proper care to flourish and grow. Without removing the harmful elements and adding in the helpful ones, we could sabotage the relationships that God gave us to nurture and sustain us in this life. Sometimes this requires extra help and effort to recover.

A counselor can facilitate communication and foster connection in relationships that have been marred by offense. Not only can we learn how to dig deeper to uproot those places of bitterness that have trained us to attack and retreat from relationships, but we can also disarm those areas where we have learned to hold onto pain to protect from future assaults.

Next steps.

Use this site to gather encouragement to help you move forward with a decision to seek a counselor. Then, schedule an appointment.

There is a process involved with unlearning the behaviors that have made us retreat from conflict. However, there is a remedy in learning how to connect and communicate in the relationships nearest to us. We can learn new habits of the heart where we not only overcome offense, but transform it into to grow in resilient and satisfying connections with God, ourselves, and others.

“Couple Fight”, Courtesy of Josethestoryteller,, CC0 License; “Young Couple”, Courtesy of Trinity Kubassek,, CC0 License; “Prayer”, Courtesy of OpenClipart-Vectors,, CC0 License; “Argument”, Courtesy of RyanMcGuire,, CC0 License