Friday, May 8, 2015

on being offended

I haven't been able to do much lately because I have been super super sick!! Still on the tail end of it but hopefully on Monday I'll be able to be a truly functional person again.
Image here.

Today I want to talk about being offended.

  1. resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.
    "she sounded slightly offended"
    synonyms:upset, insulted, affronted, aggrieved, displeased, hurt, wounded,disgruntled, put out, annoyedangrycross, exasperated, indignant,irritated, piqued, vexed, irked, stung, galled, nettled, resentful, in a huff,huffy, in high dudgeon; 

Being offended is the "in" thing to do these days. The news seems like a straight up victim parade sometimes--it's all about who offended who and who is offended the most. 

I recently lost a friend over feelings of being offended. Not my feelings. Hers. The backstory is, my family is very into research, and we read news and studies all day, and that's what we talk about. In my family, no one gets offended. We talk about what we read. Well, any time I mentioned a study or news piece on certain topics, this lady took it as a personal offense, regardless of the actual reality, which is that I just happened to find that stuff interesting. 
Image here.

She would also be upset if we were talking about certain topics and I brought up a study--rather than actually looking up the study to see if the study were valid or anything, she would just get secretly upset and harbor these inner feelings of being offended. In the meantime, it would literally never even occur to me to be upset about someone's scientific (or "scientific") assertions because I feel like that's why Google exists: to look stuff up and evaluate it. If your asserts something scientific in nature, the answer is not to get offended: the answer is to look it up. I am always grateful to those who point me in the directions of the research I need to do to make sure my life is as awesome as it can be. 

So anyway, I'm down a good friend, and it's all because of being easily offended. When I say God knows I never meant to offend her, I mean it so literally: you can seriously pray about it and learn that I really never meant to hurt her in any way. But the problem is that being offended is not something that happens to you: it is a choice. And if someone chooses to make that choice, then there's not always a lot that a well-intentioned person can do about it.

Choose Not to Be Offended
Image here.
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.

One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others. A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended—and to say with Pahoran, “it mattereth not.”
 The whole talk is phenomenal and I recommend it.

When being offended doesn't feel like a choice

Sometimes it doesn't feel like a choice to be offended or not. Just like with all emotions, sometimes things come up in our lives that trigger the feelings of offense and it feels like we had nothing to do with it.

The reality is otherwise.

At the top of this post is a picture with the words, "The feeling of 'being offended' is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues." This is so, so true.

Image here.
When you are confident in a thing, it's impossible to be offended over affronts to it. When you are secure in yourself, perceived insults just roll right off. They don't stick and they don't hurt.

Being offended and taking things personally is a symptom of being fundamentally insecure with one or more areas of yourself: be it your choices, your beliefs, your actions. This is why it is so important to live congruently (walking the talk) and to be confident in your decisions. For me, being confident in my decisions means that the majority of my decisions are deeply researched--and it also means that my decisions are open to reversal if I find more convincing evidence to do things a different way.

If being offended feels like a natural thing to you, and not like a choice, I invite you to take an introspective look at why.

Ask yourself,
What part of me is so insecure that it is driving me to be offended? 
Why am I insecure about these things? 
Are these things I can or should change? 
Is there a better thing I should be doing, a better way I should be thinking, about these issues? 
What can I do to make myself more secure such that I will stop feeling offended at this?
Framing the issues in this light can bring clarity. Being offended is a fundamental sign of insecurity and spiritual immaturity. What changes need to be made in the heart in order to overcome current feelings of being offended and to prevent future offenses from being taken to heart?

Offended by the truth

Earlier I wrote about the Victim Parade that is the news these days. Everything is all about being offended and who is victimizing who. And very often, the true offender to all the victimized is Truth.

Image here.
As an example, the pro-gay marriage crowd that is perpetually offended at the assertion that man-woman marriage is different and special and important.

The atheists perpetually offended at mentions of God.

The feminists perpetually offended at the concept of biologically-ordained gender roles.

The reason these people are offended is, at least as far as I can tell, because something is true and they don't like that.

For me, shortly before my spiritual awakening, if you will, I came across some Church doctrine that really rubbed me the wrong way. It would not be an exaggeration to say I was offended by it. It deeply, deeply upset and hurt me. Or rather: I allowed myself to be deeply upset and hurt over it.

But I did my research and prayed a lot, went to the temple over my concerns, and left feeling super humbled. The reason I was so upset was because the doctrine is true and because I was not living it. That is the honest truth of why I was offended. We get offended by truth when we know in our hearts that it is true and that we are not conforming to it.

It may not always feel that way; in the moment, it can just feel like self-righteous anger and resentment. But if you take a step back and ask, what is the kernel of truth here that my soul feels allergic to?, that can make all the difference.

I can't say for sure, but I do wonder if in reality, all offense is really just the soul's allergic reaction to truth. The symptom of personal changes that need to be made on a spiritual level for our progression.
Image here.

Just a thought.


We all have a choice in whether or not we will be offended. The modern day apostles of Jesus Christ have taught that being offended or not is a sort of barometer of spiritual maturity. There are ways we can empower ourselves in the battle against being personally offended: we must be mindful as to why we are offended, and what in ourselves needs to change in order to overcome the feelings of being offended.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to share a quote I think goes well with your post. I don't know the reference for it, but maybe you could do some research and find out. :) Brigham Young said "He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool." Easier said than done, at least for some of us, but definitely something to shoot for!