Peace & Perspective

Living in Peace by having the right perspective. Peace – ˈpēs Noun: Freedom from strife; a state of tranquillity or serenity. Perspective – per·spec·tive – pərˈspektiv – Noun: A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.


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The Culture of Offense

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.

Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

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The Culture of Me

Selflessness. Self-sacrificing. Preferring others. Those are all foreign terms in today’s culture of “me”. Are you personally familiar with them?

We are in the throes of an ugly epidemic of a self-absorbed humanity. Unfortunately, it is only going to get worse as the Bible does indeed predict it in 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

2 Timothy 3:2-5

2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

It’s visible on the roadways with erratic, careless, and distracted driving and the soaring amount of road rage incidents. It’s commonplace now to inconsiderately cut people off in traffic, ride their bumpers and push them off the road in order to be first or faster. Driving defensively has never been more necessary than today. It’s no longer just being a careful driver obeying the traffic signs, speed limits, and laws of the road, but being alert to who’s going to cut me off, flip me off, or tell me off on the highway!

In public, at home, in the workplace and in relationships, people have an immense sense of entitlement, are too offended, and don’t forgive easily or at all. Our culture is dominated by people refusing to compromise, be adaptable, be flexible, or prefer someone above themselves. It’s why marriages, families, friendships, and relationships are all falling apart.

There is no end in sight to the culture of me, only further perpetuation of it. A personal, internal philosophy of “Me first!” or even worse, “You don’t matter!” is indicative of too much pride and not enough humility in one’s life. Perhaps it’s a lifetime of zero consequences and no accountability. Maybe it’s that everything was handed to them with little to no effort so that is what they now expect from others (btw, thanks parents for poorly raising your entitled children for everyone else to have to deal with now!). It can also be due to resentment, bitterness, and an arrogant victim mentality of “Everyone owes me!”

Social media isn’t helping either as it dangerously contributes to the culture of me. We’re too busy filming brawls in Walmart for viral video status instead of responding with shock and disapproval with the encouragement to strive for better. Posting daily selfies, lengthy video stories, and going live in all we do is now the norm in order to show hundreds, thousands, and even millions of followers how fantastic we are. Our insatiable need to prove our worth and exploit ourselves for the admiration of others is doing nothing but fulfilling our superficial selfish needs.

How about the brave keyboard warriors? They spew hateful, demeaning comments with absolutely no filter. They post with such boldness as they cower behind the anonymity of a social media account. Their intentions are self-satisfying as their impulsive and unkind rhetoric has only one mission: to tear people down not once thinking how their cruel words might ultimately affect others because they just fulfilled their immediate need of self-gratification. Mission accomplished!

Note that in all these examples, not once is anything done for someone else. They’re all for the purpose of satisfying self. If people would spend half their time doing some self-reflection and seeking a deeper life, they would live a more rewarding life that doesn’t need to be played out on social media because when you live a rewarding life, you don’t need the affirmation from countless strangers to tell you are worthy of anything. It comes from within and that feeling satisfies you.

Individuals who are cognizant to the feelings, needs and well-being of others are a rare breed anymore. We are all born selfish so our lives must be a constant work in progress to improve and extinguish that innate nature within ourselves. We must recognize it and seek to change it.

Unless you are exposed to and taught a selfless life, most likely you will not produce a selfless life. I believe we begin to change when at some point in our lives, someone has or will cross our path and demonstrate what selflessness looks like and we understand how it makes us feel as a recipient. It is then we must pay attention. That feeling of gratitude we get when selflessness is directed toward us must be etched in our brains and fondly remembered so that the next time we have the opportunity, we can be the initiator of that feeling of gratitude in someone else by selflessly choosing to put them first.

Make today the day you choose to put others before yourself impressing them so profoundly with your selflessness that they cannot wait for their opportunity to impress it onto others.

Romans 12:10  

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.