Great news: Forgiveness for everyday offenses gets easier. It’s a discipline and a practice, and like going for a habitual run, it becomes less of a struggle and more a part of your lifestyle.
In my moving, powerful, and theologically deep chapter titled “Bert and Ernie and Satan,” I mention some of the potentially offensive reactions I’ve gotten to my radio show. I’m still doing the radio show and podcast, so I’m still getting them.
I even get people upset at me for commercials. There’s a commercial I voice for a healthcare-sharing plan, wherein I remind people “the typical family saves five hundred dollars a month.” The commercial airs a lot. Over and over, “the typical family saves five hundred dollars a month.”
I recently got a tweet in response from someone who just couldn’t take it anymore (who knows how they find that I’m the guy?). He was just plain brilliant in his brevity and directness:
“Dude, you’re the worst. Every time I hear your voice, I want to drive my jeep into a tree.”
He really captured his feelings so succinctly. I respect that.
“Fair enough, but before you do that: Can I tell you about a healthcare plan where you can save $500 a month...?”
We Don’t Need to Get Defensive, Angry and Upset
Of course, our natural, human response to people being insulting is to get defensive, angry, and upset. But over time, this can change. We can react differently, even in the moment.
A few months ago, a guy driving a truck and a Little Debbie delivery trailer cut in front of me. I was in the right lane, and he swerved in suddenly. I had to throw on the brakes. He then came to a stop, blocking me. I could see him walking toward me, steaming mad; and when he got to my window, he started cussing me out. I thought he was going to reach through and punch me.
This may sound like it makes no sense. He swerves in, nearly hits you with his Little Debbie trailer, and he’s violently angry at you? That is correct. None of this makes sense. I still don’t know what he thinks I did.
As he continued screaming at me, I told him I genuinely didn’t understand but hoped he could still have a good day.
He huffed away, then came back. I don’t think he knew how to handle the fact that I was so calm and genuinely rooting for him.
He pointed at me. “You... you’re an a——!”
I paused and said (and meant) this: “You know what? I probably am. That’s probably true. But I still hope this doesn’t ruin everything for you today. It doesn’t need to.”
He was visibly confused. He walked away and drove off.
Practicing Forgiveness Helps You Keep a Cool and Loving Head
It’s alarming to come into contact with unfettered anger or unfair accusations. But practicing forgiveness helps us keep a cool head in the moment. I’m not kidding when I tell you I was, even in the moment, rooting for the guy. And hurting for him.
This isn’t because I’ve arrived at some Zen-like “detachment” level. It’s the opposite of detachment, honestly: it’s attachment. I’m continually attached to a deep gratefulness for what God has done for me. I’m not “emptying my mind” to deal with anger. I’m filling my mind more consistently with the truth about who I am and how God has been good to me.
It’s making a difference. I have a long, long way to go. Like I told the Little Debbie guy, and I meant it: I am still very capable of being a... you-know-what. But I’m telling you, this lifestyle, this practice, makes a difference.
We become different people. Transformed.
Brant Hansen joins Randy and Tammy this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Taken from Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. Copyright © 2015, 2023 Brant Hansen. Published by W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.