The procedures I perform as a nurse require that my patients sign a consent form first. You know the ones I mean. The consent forms basically say that you give me permission to perform the procedure, and you won’t blame me if I mess up. (That’s not what they really say.) They actually are to insure that the patient understands the need for the procedure and the possible side effects and risks involved. No signed consent, no procedure.
Most patients can take care of signing this themselves, but sometimes a patient is unable to. They might have what we call an “altered mental status” either from the medications they are on or from some disease process.
In these cases, another person must be willing to step up and sign for them. Most folks have some family or significant other close by they can depend on, but sometimes a person is just without anyone at all. Still, in other cases the person or persons who normally would step up, refuse to get involved.
I can recall a patient I once had that needed to have one of his sons sign his consent form. The old man was just too confused to fully grasp the situation at hand. Sadly, neither son was willing to do anything. One had not seen his father for over a decade and had not had contact with him in all that time. The other had been estranged for a lesser amount of time, but just didn’t want to get involved. They both lived just a few short miles away, but neither was willing to even consent to the procedure over the phone.
I couldn’t fathom this. As I stood there looking at this pathetic, ailing, old man, I couldn’t help but wonder what had transpired in that family that caused his sons to refuse to come to his aid even in his final days. I understand that sometimes there are cases where parents have severely mistreated their children and have severed relationships there, but much more commonly the rift in families- or in other relationships- is over far less.
We are often so quick to take up an offense… and then we like to hold onto that offense. Stroke it, feed it and watch it grow. We build a hard and fast, ironclad case for cultivating it. We even try to garner support and gather fans of our offense. We feel as if we deserve to be offended, and yet, if we are to die daily to ourselves (and we are) it is a true statement that dead people are un-offendable. We are to lay down our very lives (set aside our own agendas- Matthew 16:24-25) and take up the cause of Christ every day. Doing this leaves little time to tend to an offense.
Holding onto an offense puts our focus on ourselves. Those sons were not willing to take their eyes off of themselves, and the offense they had nurtured, long enough to simply do the humanitarian thing for their father.
We can find we are offended by big things for sure, but little things can cause us to take up a personal offense, too. Just this week, I was standing at the grocery deli counter along with a few other people. I needed to get some sandwich meat. I waited patiently for the person ahead of me to be served. When the deli lady then asked for who was next, before I could speak, a man standing next to me spoke up his order. This offended me. This little thing. I wanted to say, “Hey buddy, I was here first, and besides, this is still the south and its still ladies first down here!” It wasn’t until I had left the store that I was able to lay down that offense. I didn’t even know him, and I had allowed him to rob me of my peace!
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3
Offense robs us of peace, contentment, relationships, and intimacy. Holding onto an offense instead brings us pridefulness, discontentment, estrangement, and anger.
Being right isn’t more important than doing right. Our greatest example of a person who deserved to be offended, and yet refused to take up the offense, was Jesus. I cannot fathom his ability to- while they were in the process of murdering him via crucifixion- ask God for their forgiveness. Incredible. That is our example.
So how do we, mere mortals, accomplish this?
Change our focus and let it go. Just. Let. It. Go. (Refer back to Isaiah 26:3 above) And then the next time we have the opportunity to pick it back up… don’t. Leave it. You’ll find that an offense without a host quickly withers away.