We were having a conversation about some person who had said or done something to one of us. I can’t clearly remember the details; it happened a couple years ago.
Then she said, “I choose not to be offended.” That simple affirmation exploded my brain. It had hardly occurred to me that I’d any choice in the matter. I just assumed that when somebody offended you they automatically went on an endangered species list. I assumed that everyone had a knee-jerk reaction like that to an offense. I sure did, and along with that came a vector in my unconscious that meant someday, in some way there would be payback.
Odd—my reaction. I should know better. After all, I authored a book Satan’s Top Ten Tricks that has Satan’s voice in our thoughts calling for, and justifying, payback or vengeance. That’s Trick #9. I also attend Celebrate Recovery (CR) weekly and the small group I sit in after the big meeting is for men with codependency and anger issues.
Choosing not to be offended is about living life intentionally. My last blog ten days ago was about living intentionally. For all my supposed Christian conditioning in ethics and how one should live one’s life—I, like most I suspect—are unthinkingly driven by a satanically abetted unconscious from moment to moment.
But sometimes I pull myself together and choose the right course. I choose to live intentionally—choose not to take offense. I choose to think on some of the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount found in Matthew 5: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” or “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Satan lives in our reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is the core part of our brain that is extremely ancient—the part that governs automatic drives like hunger, anger, lust and flight or fight. The prefrontal cortex lies beneath our forehead and overlays the reptilian brain. It is where intentionality resides. Intentionality is sometimes referred to as “executive” function. It is the part of our brain where a thought originates as in, “Yes, I will pick up that book.” or “No, I’m not going there today.” A thought originating there can inhibit or override an emotional impulse from the reptilian part of the brain.
I believe that if we bathe our brains in scripture we greatly increase our chances of living intentionally. Really studying scripture in depth: reading commentaries, diverse translations, meditating on God’s word, etc engages our frontal lobes. One of God’s first instructions was to surround ourselves with constant reminders of His laws (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). I believe He decreed this because of how potent and persistent the reptilian brain is in driving us toward sin and away from Him. He gave us the faculty in our prefrontal cortex to inhibit reptilian impulses and to live intentionally.
An Afterthought: Did you ever wonder why Satan is depicted as a snake and the primitive part of our brain is termed “reptilian”?—and how Jesus, the eventual seed of Adam and Eve, would “crush” the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).