We’ve all been there. The “event” happened hours ago…maybe even days or worse yet, years and our minds are set on replay. Replaying the event with the inserted language of what we wish we would’ve said. Or maybe you aren’t replaying but anticipating. Anticipating what you will say or do if you run into her in the produce section of Target. Or if you see him traipsing out of the gym at his usual time. Have you ever found yourself in this state, or is it just me?
One definition of offense states, “annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.”
If you’ve lived longer than half a millisecond, you are highly aware that the opportunity to take offense towards another is infiltrating our world in abundance. Cut off in traffic. Your boss didn’t say hi this morning. You were passed over to bring monthly snacks for Charlie’s class. Offended. Or worse. Your best friend’s phone calls seem to be getting less and less. The pink slip was given to you over the newer employee. Your moral opinions are being challenged by another’s vantage point. Offended.
The act of offense is often out of our control; the act of being offended is ours to let go.
Author Bryant McGill states, “The feeling of being “offended” is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues.” Ouch.
But how do we look inward when what’s been done was outward? How do we let go when our feelings are soaking in hurt? Speaking from much experience, the grip of holding on to an offense has the potential to leave wounds far more profound than the actual offense. So how?
Let’s borrow a cue from McGill and take time to examine ourselves. Take time to explore our reaction. Maybe our frustration towards the lack of phone calls is stemming from a deep desire for connection and feeling valued that we are seeking from others. And maybe our best friend’s lack of contact has less to do with them not valuing us and more to do with the 23.4 million responsibilities she is attempting to perfect in being a mom and a wife. Looking below the surface will give us clues as to why we feel a certain way and how to let our emotions work for us and not against us.
Let’s also remember it is okay to carry morals and values without everyone agreeing with them or even understanding them. Does it feel good? No. But can we still thrive in our belief system without it? Yes.
Lastly, let us remember that when we choose to be offended, we are the ones choosing to carry the extra baggage. Let’s go further than that. What if we intentionally choose to believe the best in others, to believe that people are trying their hardest to function in this thing we call life? Let us be people when an offense does occur; we choose to give grace, offer forgiveness, and walk on in the freedom found in choosing not to be a person who is easily offended!