Have I Offended You?
Are y’all lining up? I’m confident there’s a crowd forming.
After just celebrating my most recent birthday, I can now say I’ve got fifty years’ worth of time accrued offending, hurting, and otherwise ticking people off. Well, perhaps not quite fifty. I’m sure I didn’t do much damage in my first few years on earth, but when I got the hang of it, seems like I made up for lost time.
Today I ask for your forgiveness. Maybe.
Offended is the new buzz word of today. EVERYONE is offended for one reason or another. Some reasons are legit. Some absurd. But people are laying claim to the victim bandwagon in epic proportions.
This is prevalent…
In family and friendship circles.
In the workplace.
In politics. Boy howdy is it in politics.
In social gatherings.
People are even offended by restrooms.
Discussions about those offended lead many conversations.
Laws are being created and laws are being broken because people are offended.
Stories of those offended have taken over the news.
It seems we’ve morphed into a society of whining, fragile, self-absorbed ninnies.
And now I’ve probably offended you too!
Like I said, get in line.
The Progression Of Offense
As a youngster, I was bold, confident, knew everything, and was always right. Seriously. Weren’t you? I had no problem sharing my opinions openly, whether solicited or not, and never felt bad about the aftermath of my bluntness. My approach didn’t utilize an ounce of finesse nor compassion. And I didn’t care.
I wasn’t a Christian, so I spoke MY truth.
And I offended many people along the way.
As a mature adult, which is still open for debate, I admit I know very little and fear I’m not going to learn all I’d like to before I die. I’m hesitant to share opinions, even when they are invited, and I’m forever concerned that I’ve either said too much or was too forward. I go out of my way to utilize every shred of patience and empathy I have because I truly want to help and make a positive impact.
I’m a Christian now, so I try to speak GOD’s truth.
And I still offend so many people along the way.
An Interesting Twist in Offense
How can this be?
How can I operate with two completely different objectives and approaches yet receive such similar outcomes?
This dilemma has plagued me for the past several years. It has left me twisted in knots I didn’t have the wherewithal to unravel and rendered me gasping for air in between sobs of hurt and pain.
Offending someone when I didn’t care was one thing, but doing so when I go out of my way NOT to offend is torturous. I’m perplexed by unanswered questions while my heart is left empty, broken, and longing for the hope I’ve abandoned.
How could I have offended you so deeply when I honestly did my best to do the opposite?
What could I have done to offend you so horribly that I don’t deserve a second chance or an ounce of grace?
How could you hate me so much?
How come you can’t even look at me when you speak to me?
What could I have done to justify such cold treatment?
Don’t I matter?
Don’t you care?
Raw, agonizing questions…
You must know this is not a picture I paint for you easily.
Remember that bold, confident girl I spoke of? Well, she’s still in there, as defiant as ever, wondering why I’m now succumbing to such ‘weakness’ and ‘despair’. Embarrassed that I appear so fragile. Mortified that I care what people think.
It’s sheer torment when I realize I’ve offended someone.
Have you had those moments? When your heart and your head are battling fiercely for the same truth, each seeing their own side so differently. And so very adamantly. And each believing they are right. Heart and mind in conflict, complimented by warring sides of overwhelming guilt and defiant pride. You’re confused.
You feel bad but you don’t. You feel mad but you aren’t. You feel sad but you’re not sure exactly why.
All I can say is this ‘Christian Adulting Thing’ isn’t for sissies!
But God never promised us it would be easy.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We’ll have trouble? Really? He sure wasn’t kidding…
You’re Not Alone
I complain about others being so easily offended, but the truth is, I’m also offended from time to time.
I gather the facts. I process logically. I strive to be empathetic. I extend empathy. I pray.
Yet there are still times when wounds run deep, the hurt won’t recede, and I wonder if I have fallen prey to the generation of fellow offended souls.
“No, no, no. I cry. I won’t let you take me! I’m better than this. I’m stronger than that. I’m sensible and logical and rational.” But regardless of my resolve, I cave to defeat. And I’m offended too.
Soul-Searching For Truth
You’ve probably surmised by now that I’ve spent a good deal of time pondering this whole ‘I’m Offended Syndrome’… and you’re quite right.
When did this happen? When did it become so easy to offend someone? Or to be offended?
Culture has promoted the ‘Me, Me, Me’ revolution. It’s all about US!
- How quickly we can get something.
- How much we deserve it.
- How fantastic we are.
- How great we look.
- How much our feelings matter.
- How our opinions should always be heard.
- How we should be coddled, handled with kid gloves, and treated with the utmost of sensitivity and compassion.
- How we should be able to abandon our debts, turn in work late, and shirk responsibility yet still receive great credit, great grades, and great promotions.
- How we aren’t allowed to fail, or face adversity, or struggle.
- How there should be abundant leniency in consequences.
- How everyone should like us for exactly who we are.
- How we are entitled to freedom in everything – our speech, our clothes, our self-expression, our religion, and even freedom in our ability to choose our own gender.
- How truth, even spoken in love, is wrong.
There are no longer boundaries between right and wrong, just new levels of everything is right because everything is a choice and everything is acceptable.
And anything, ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING OR ANYONE who challenges or threatens this standard is OFFENSIVE.
I shudder to think what our great grandparents would say? I bet they would make my use of the word ‘ninnie’ look lame!
I’m Offended That You’re Offended
How do you like that?
Now we’re BOTH offended.
A lot of help that is!
So how do we sort through this complicated mess and improve the standard? How do we restore desperately needed respect, values, and character?
The answer isn’t easy, but I’ve come up with a few steps to help us get started.
If you are doing the offending:
- Make sure the truth you are speaking is rooted in God’s Word and spoken in love. The world may not always appreciate you but it’s not the world you are trying to impress. Don’t make excuses.
- Stand firm in your convictions and beliefs. Don’t be swayed by guilt, fear, or peer pressure. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” – Alexander Hamilton and others. Stand tall in Christ and resist looking back.
- If you have wronged someone, ask for forgiveness. We all make mistakes and humility is a powerful witness and a redeeming character trait.
If you feel offended:
- Remember we deserve nothing but death. This is a perspective changer and can help overcome petty, selfish, misguided complaints. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
- Consider the heart motive. Perhaps the person was trying to be helpful? Or caring? Or loving? Maybe the approach or words were wrong but their heart was in the right place. Replace hyper-sensitivity with grace.
- Speak up respectfully. Misunderstandings happen. Give the other party the opportunity to participate and perhaps explain or apologize.
- If necessary, draw healthy boundaries. Give yourself permission to step out of a harmful situation and protect yourself.
I told you the answer wasn’t easy! But it’s also not impossible. Accurately discerning the situation is key in calling the right shots and constructively moving forward.
Back To Me. And You.
If I’ve offended you, I ask for grace and forgiveness.
If I was speaking truth in love, I ask for understanding and reflection.
If you’re being selfish or sensitive, I ask you to reevaluate your position.
And I will try my level best to do the very same for you.
Let’s all do our part to bring Generation Offended to a rapid close.