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  • Writer's pictureLoren

4 Warning Signs That Offense is Controlling Your Life

when your life is controlled by an offense

In sports and the military, they say that "the best defense is a good offense." But in relationships, offense can take control of your life causing you to become so defensive that you are unable to find peace with others and have conflict at every corner. While you may want to win a game or a war, winning in relationships takes a different strategy.

Here are four warning signs that offense is controlling your life.

1. You put up walls

Offense makes you more vulnerable. So you build a tough exterior and wall that no one can break through hoping that it will keep you safe. But not letting people in keeps the good out too. By fortifying walls to keep out negativity, you may shut out the warmth of genuine relationships and the beauty of meaningful interactions.

Choosing vulnerability over self-preservation can be daunting, but it is in these moments of openness that true connections are formed. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable means acknowledging the inherent risk of being hurt, but it also opens the door to profound experiences of empathy, understanding, and love. It is a delicate balance between protecting yourself by guarding your heart while remaining open to the world around you.

Embracing vulnerability does not mean abandoning all caution; it involves a willingness to be authentic and genuine in your interactions with others. When you begin to recognize that true strength lies not in building walls, but in having the courage to let them down, even if it means exposing your vulnerabilities.

2. You stop caring

Offense steals your hope and makes you believe nothing matters. You stop caring because you don’t think it’s worth it. Numbing your feelings won’t allow hurt to heal and you won’t make progress.

When you feel offended, it can lead you to a state of apathy where you stop caring about things that once held importance to you. This sense of disillusionment can be overwhelming, making it seem like your efforts are futile and not worth the trouble. Without allowing yourself to confront and address these feelings, you remain stuck in a cycle of stagnation, unable to move forward.

Relationships can look like this makeshift island I accidentally bought one time. It didn't come assembled, and as I started to put the pieces together, I realized the back was made of particle board, it wasn't real wood. It wasn't sturdy and it was never meant to be out in the middle of the kitchen, but rather against a wall hiding the back. When relationships hit turbulence, there comes a time when you just stop caring. You don’t even care if the back of the relationship is like a flimsy piece of particle board. You try to make do with what you’ve got, even if it’s not perfect. When you don’t see the point in caring anymore, not only is there no perfection, there also is no progress.

3. Little things irritate you

Offense throws a wrench into your idea of perfection. This causes you to become irritated by little details that never bothered you before. Everywhere you look you will see negative aspects instead of joy. 

When an offense disrupts your sense of perfection, it can have a profound impact on your mindset and emotions. Suddenly, what used to bring you joy and contentment is overshadowed by a sense of irritation and dissatisfaction. The smallest imperfections that previously went unnoticed now seem to stand out prominently, casting a shadow over your usual optimism. This shift in perspective can color your interactions and experiences, making it challenging to find pleasure in the things that once brought you happiness.

These irritants in relationships are like a chemical in your laundry detergent that you don’t realize you are allergic to. You wash your favorite article of clothing, but one day, you realize you have a horrible rash on your skin. It’s your favorite piece, and you don’t know why it’s bothering you now, but one day you just stop wearing it. When you become irritated in a relationship, even one you once loved, you may have the inclination to disregard it—either fully in a divorce or breakup—or you may just close yourself off emotionally and physically. Irritants that damage your perfection scheme create offenses in your life.

4. You need to have the last word

Offense drives your need for defense. You start to think winning includes talking the most and getting the last word in. This mindset creates a win/lose dynamic where losing is not an option. However, the irony lies in the fact that when you are solely focused on offense, you never truly achieve victory.

The relentless pursuit of being right or getting in the last word can lead to a lack of empathy and connection with others. When winning becomes the sole objective, it can erode relationships and breed resentment. When offense turns to resentment, it becomes even harder to move forward.

Forgiveness is one the hardest truths to accept and act on when you are offended. You may have a notion that to forgive someone means you accept the behavior or that it will right the wrong. You may also believe that to forgive shows weakness, and you may be tempted to get the last word in as a sign of winning. Seeing who can be more stubborn and bitter is a game that no one will win—at least, it’s not a game worth winning in relationships.

What does the Bible say about offense?

The Apostle Paul urges us, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Col. 3:13 NLT). Reading this verse and hearing about it sounds easier in theory than putting it to practice. The world tells us to get even when we are wronged or to make things right that are done to us unjustly. But the Bible teaches us that God forgave us—all of us—so we ought to extend the same treatment to others.

One of the hardest parts about offense is feeling the need to be defensive. Jesus reminds us: “When they drag you into their meeting places, or into police courts and before judges, don’t worry about defending yourselves—what you’ll say or how you’ll say it” (Luke 12:11 MSG). While this passage refers to believers who were persecuted for their trust in God, I think it’s a good way to view our relationships. We worry about defending ourselves in relationships. We want to be right, especially when you are in a struggling relationship.

How you handle the difficult situations you face alone as well as in a relationship is pretty telling for the condition of your heart and what you have let in. Paul declares, “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (Phil. 2:14 NLT). In your times of trials and in the wilderness, it is tempting to complain. You question why and are hurt, so you speak and act from your pain and offense. But instead of complaining or arguing for the last word, you can turn to Jesus and give him praise—praise for what he has done and what he will do in the future. It seems counterintuitive to what you want to do, but that’s the life of being a child of God. You praise when you do not know or understand, because you do know one day, you will see it come to pass. That hope and faith are things that no one and no experience can take away from you. If Paul could praise in prison in the Bible, you can praise through a divorce, separation, or relationship downfalls.


For more resources on how to deal with offense and live a life of redemption after a divorce, separation, or struggling relationship, you can buy my book Wings to Rise above Divorce.


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