May 6, 2012


{serene via etsy} 

In my church calling I see many people who are not active because someone "offended" them 20 years ago. The whole thing didn't make sense to me. But today I had a glimpse into how that can happen.

I was in Sunday School and raised my hand to make a comment. I didn't make myself clear and the instructor misunderstood what I was saying. Her response to my comment made me feel, well, stupid. I felt like I looked foolish to everyone, and it made me a little mad. During the rest of the lesson I was surprised by my thoughts. "She thinks she is so smart. Maybe I'll just skip her class from now on." I realized this was silly and tried to brush it off. But it ate at me the same.

After the lesson I felt I should talk to her. (Which I was happy to do, because a part of me wanted to validate my comment. Petty, I know.)  I went up and explained what I had intended to convey. She immediately became soft spoken and kind. "My husband tells me that I am always scolding class members. I am so sorry. I don't mean to." And in that instant, my bitterness was gone. I felt I understood her, and I harbored no ill-will. Amazingly, I felt love and kindness toward her.

I'm writing this down as a reminder to me for the next time someone "offends" me. What a difference it made to have a 30-second conversation. It would have only done me harm had I let my bitterness grow and snowball into something bigger.

When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.       
                                                                                                -David A Bednar

1 comment:

Marie said...

great reminder, thanks!