I admit it. I am easily offended. I am that girl. Am I proud of this? No. I wish I weren’t this way. I wish I didn’t take snide remarks, rude behavior, and people with no filter to heart. Truth is, I do. And, I know exactly why. It’s a combination of harsh environments, abrasive people, and incomprehensible ridiculous injustices I have experienced peppered throughout my life. And, quite honestly, people are offensive.
As I wrote in my blog, “The Culture of Me” we are living in a time when everyone’s first and foremost concern is themselves. It’s easy to get offended simply by going out in public and interacting with people. Offense is easily triggered when kindness allows the car in front of you to effortlessly enter traffic – with no wave or thanks in return. Grace holds the door open and allows someone else to walk through first – with absolutely no acknowledgment. Self-control says nothing as distracted shoppers bump into you – while they turn back and give you a dirty look.
What happened to us as a society? I can never remember living in a time such as this. It’s not just public interactions either. It’s family, friends, and acquaintances as well. Blatant rudeness, disrespecting personal boundaries, zero filters, sarcastic or demeaning comments, and my favorite, initiating and provoking conflict. Yet, all become bewildered – and offended when the offensive behaviors are held accountable.
It won’t stop until one person steps up to be the bigger person. Either the offended person lets it go without incident or the one who has done the offending takes accountability for the offense. Rarely do we have a situation where both parties do their part in keeping the peace. Typically, it’s the offender who expects others to not be offended by their offensive behavior.
As a follower of Christ, I know we must show the love of Jesus to everyone including people who offend us. Most people who offend us don’t even know they’re offensive. They lack the social cues and missed the opportunity to learn and gain what is necessary to be a giving and selfless individual. For those who have a desire to grow, this can be remedied by discipline and a teachable spirit. However, some see no need to change as their self-centeredness is all they know and care about.
At times, I wonder if showing the love of Christ will make a difference in the lives of others. Will they even recognize my effort to overlook their offense or simply see it as permission to continue the offensive behavior because I did not oppose. I know that the hope is they will learn from it and show the same grace to others as well as recognize their own offensive behavior, however, it is not the reason why I should show the love of Christ. Showing the love of Christ to the unlovable does a work in me because it suppresses my fleshly desire to react naturally. This cannot be done without humility. It disciplines me on how to react on a supernatural level depending solely on the help of the Holy Spirit.
So, how do we navigate past another’s lack of self-awareness and insensitive offenses? By understanding that we are all dealing with some type of past hurt in our lives and a great majority of us are living with unhealed wounds. These internal wounds of offense that we all carry are sure to surface outwardly by our demonstration of offensive behavior or by our reaction to offensive behavior. Basically, we’re all a ticking time bomb of emotions ready to explode.
That’s where grace comes in as we discipline ourselves to stop our natural reaction and instead pause and do something unnatural – show love in return. Love can be as simple as practicing patience or it could be bold by overlooking the offense entirely. It sounds impossible. It even feels impossible. But with Christ, all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
Let’s start being better humans to one another. Next time someone is kind to you on the highway or holds the door open for you, stop and give them a wave, a thank you and a smile. It will make their day and I guarantee you’ll feel good about it too! Then next time, you be the one to go out of your way for someone with a selfless act of kindness and begin to plant seeds in them of what selflessness truly looks like.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.