How to Choose Not to Be Offended

When I was a kid in the back of the station wagon on family road trips, I always put my imagination to work as we drove through the towns on the way to our destination. (No interstate driving for us – my dad liked the scenic route.) station_wagon

I spent time imagining what life was like for the people who lived in the places we drove through. I entertained thoughts of what it would be like to live in the houses we passed and go home to the families that built their lives there.

Sometimes, I cringed at the thought of what their lives were like and other times I thought it would be a grand adventure to be in their shoes.

As we journey through life, we meet those people. We work with those people. Sometimes we marry those people. They come from radically different backgrounds than our own. They have different beliefs, attitudes and experiences – different pains and burdens to carry.  And that’s just one reason why it’s easy for people to offend us.

But here’s the deal. When you choose to be offended (and you CAN choose NOT to), you forfeit your ability to influence. When you get offended,  you’re really passing judgment on the other person. And when you judge people, they feel rejected and shut down in the relationship. It’s especially dangerous when this happens with those we’re close to.

SISTERS-FIGHTINGBack on the road, my sister was always riding along in the backseat with me (or even stretched out with the seats down in the station wagon with NO SEATBELTS – imagine that. We survived.). We had a lot of opportunities to offend each other on those long trips. In fact, we practiced and got really good at it. Sometimes it’s the people closest to us who know exactly where to aim to hit our soft spots and inflict injury.

So how do you get through a day without being offended? The key is learning how to respond instead of react.

“If you choose to not be offended, then you have taken the first step towards influence.”  ~ Jeremy Statton

How to Choose Not to Be Offended

I call the art of not being offended “sitting down on the inside.” When you sit down on the inside, you liberate yourself by letting go of the need to be right. It’s a choice to put down a prideful attitude (EGO with a capital “E”) and listen to another person. Even if they’re wrong. You may feel justified to be offended by someone’s words or actions. You may feel vindicated when you react. But if you’re interested in building enduring relationships, there has to be a better way.

Learning to “sit down on the inside” set me free.  Here’s what this phrase means to me:

•   Say “I’m sorry” first, even if it’s not your fault.  Forgive – even if the other person is wrong. It takes a big person to build a bridge and repair a breach.

An offended heart is the breeding ground of deception.” John Bevere

Walking in love is a far more valuable than being right.

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. ~Rene Descartes

I don’t have to defend myself. It’s not about me. Every single person has value, even when it’s buried under a pile of garbage. Choose to be a treasure hunter for the good that’s buried in other people.}

So here’s your challenge for today:
Choose not to be offended – it’s exhilarating to let go of the need to be right.

8 thoughts on “How to Choose Not to Be Offended”

  1. Oh, how right you are, Beverly! How we choose to respond determines our level of frustration and pain. So many times people don’t even realize that they are getting offended by the same person or the same scenario. If they would only step back long enough to assess (through journal writing) why they react the way they do, they can position themselves not to react to the offense. Many times the enemy will use that same old “worn towel” of offense to throw us off track from seeing what God wants us to do and learn. Thank you for sharing the tips to get us to begin thinking about who really has control over the way we respond.

  2. Beverly Lewis

    Appreciate your insights. I’m an avid journal writer. It’s enlightening not only to process things through writing but it’s super helpful to read back over entries from the past lest we forget how much we’ve learned and how far we’ve come.

  3. Beverly Lewis

    Thanks, Becky, for taking the time to comment. I’ve observed you are made from miracle fiber, as in “Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage.” -George Patton

  4. I learnt the hard way that the best way of dealing with a drunk who was hurling abuse over the supper table was not to say a word. literally. Not even any words spoken in defence or to express an alternative point of view. Absolute silence. The tears came when the plates were cleared and I was out of sight.

    Say something to express an alternative opinion and the torrent of words would worsen. Silence and a complete lack of response was the best defence mechanism I had. It turned what he wanted to become a conversation into a monologue. It was soon too boring for him to continue so it brought an end to the tirade of words.

    Complete and utter lack of response like that takes a lot of effort but it can be a lot less painful than the alternative. The problem was that their pain was so great that when the alcohol reduced their ability to control their behaviour they were unfit to be around any living creature. In fact what they really wanted was comfort in their own pain. Problem was that the hurt that they inflicted due to their pain made it extremely difficult for me to do much other than stay quiet and as far away form them as possible.

    I did finally find an escape but that was miraculous in itself.

  5. Beverly Lewis

    Susan, Wow- that’s a deep example of not taking offense. I know God will take that pain, as you offer it to Him, and turn it into victory to help set others free. Sounds like you’ve been able to process through a hellish situation. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Powerful !! I love your gentle power … And the way you model standing in love … that is truly the focus of my current journey. Blessings, Beverly and thank you!

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