BY LEANN DILBECK –
Seems almost every broadcast of the news has at least one story that concerns one individual or group being offended by the actions of another. Some people make “statements” with the general motivation to offend the opposing view and then some people do it completely inadvertently, completely innocent and absent of any malice.
And none of us are immune to it. Let’s face it… we’ve all offended or have been offended at one point or another. Whether you’re offended by someone’s PRO LIFE shirt or you’re guilty of approaching a total stranger and asking their age (only with the intent of saying how young they look), it happens. Maybe you didn’t get invited to a party that someone else did… Never received a thank you for a gift that you spent hours selecting… Or you’re frustrated that the boss continually takes another co-worker to lunch and not you. So, what’s the answer… besides taking a candle to our cave to live in complete and total isolation from anyone or anything that might brush our hair the wrong way?
There are those people in life who are thoughtless, insensitive, and blunt. They’re filters are dialed down low… or maybe even non-existent. They may also be mean spirited and truly desire to provoke hurt and anger by their actions and words.
Then there are those other people who are the complete opposite and anything offensive that they do is completely inadvertent and with no malicious intent whatsoever… but they may, misspeak or be misunderstood on occasion.
Should the response be the same?
We can choose to feel offended, insulted, snubbed, and on and on… and take on the bitterness, anger, and resentment that are sure to follow. Or, we can choose to overlook certain offenses by using discernment to determine its intent. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 “Do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.”
When we evaluate our self, we quickly realize that we, too, may have purposefully or unintentionally also offended someone so who are we to throw the first stone when we too are guilty of the same.
Stop to realize that it’s not always all about you. That there is the distinct possibility that you misinterpreted something. Or, realize that we are all entitled to differing viewpoints and opinions.
If you don’t want to be offended, don’t turn on the TV, read newspapers, books or magazines, surf the web, open your mail, go to any public place or interact even with your closest friends or family, because it is an unavoidable reality of life. But if you do choose to take that risk of not living in a bubble, realize that it is not the offenders who hold the power, but you who can demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) in determining a reaction, if any at all.
A photo went viral on social media recently of a mom of 3 wearing a PRO LIFE shirt while holding her Chick-Fil-A cup standing outside a Hobby Lobby. Liberals everywhere were “offended” by her method of expression of supporting conservative faith-based businesses. In the words of Albert Einstein – “Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”