Confession: I am someone who can be offended pretty easily.
It’s not like I walk around angry all the time. I don’t enjoy the negative feelings that come with it. But sometimes I forget to look for the good, and I get caught up in the reaction to the bad.
In an online world, this state of being offended at whatever-it-is-today seems to give me a way to connect with other people. I like posts and retweet statements that agree and confirm my current state of mind. I will read blog posts that support my bias, and seethe my way through those that offer contrary, but possibly valid, viewpoints.
When the “offense” happens in a face-to-face setting, I build community, too. Usually through gossip and looking to find fault with the other person.
I’ve been offended by bloggers who seem to try to capitalize on tragedies in the news with clickbait style posts. The posts appear to be intended to enrage instead of inform.
I’ve been offended by people who make blanket statements about the way people (especially women) should live and serve in the church.
I’ve been offended by perceived lack of consideration, inability to follow rules, inefficiencies, you name it. At work, at home, on the roads, in the grocery store………
And I’m sure people have been offended by me, for some of the same reasons. But I don’t like to think about that.
You see, what I think is behind this perpetual state of offense is a sin I know is part of my nature. It creeps into my conversations and my attitude on a daily basis. It controls my words and my actions, but I wasn’t aware of the extent. This sin that drives me to find people who agree with me and support my offense? That refuses to consider any alternate view? Pride.
Pride has me closing myself off into a bubble of disagreeable agreement. And I’m tired of living like this.
Recently, when I’ve started to become offended at something or someone, I’ve sensed the Lord whispering to me. Sometimes it’s conviction: “Don’t you do the same thing to other people?” Sometimes. I don’t like those conversations very much; my pride never wants to admit it is in the wrong!
But more frequently the whisper had been more of a course correction. Something like, “If you don’t like that, then don’t do it.” It’s as if the Lord is telling me to Pay Attention and Proactively Resolve instead of floating through life frantically reacting to everything.
I’m not talking about not being bothered by active sin. I’m talking about the everyday encounters – the political post shares, the blogs that support a particular lifestyle unique to a small percentage of believers, the opinion pieces that don’t have any real bearing on my life.
So that’s where I am right now. Paying attention to the things that bother me, examining my life to see if they are active behaviors that give offense to others, and resolving to be different.
My action steps to accomplish this are pretty simple:
1. Ask – am I bothered by this because it’s a sin issue for myself or someone close to me? Or is it a nonessential?
2. Disengage – put the phone down or unfollow. Step out of the community that is feeding the feelings of offense.
3. Look – is this a problem for me? Or is it just info to file away?
4. Resolve – I’ve actually said out loud, “I don’t like this. I don’t want to be like that.”
I don’t actually like the offended person I find inside myself. I don’t want to be like her – and I’m happy to say I don’t have to be like her anymore!