Just when you were beginning to think chaplaincy was all sunshine, roses, and holy moments… (or was that just me?) I am about to talk about taking offense. Do we have a right to take offense? Or is it a choice to take offense?
Let’s start with a definition of what it means to be offended. Dictionary.com says, it means to be resentful, annoyed, or insulted. It is usually a strong feeling we have towards a person, cause, or anything we do not agree with. In today’s political climate, it seems the general consensus is that it is our right to be offended, and maybe for some, even our responsibility to be offended.
As a Christian, I must go to the word of God to see what would Jesus do?
The original Greek word often translated to offense in the New Testament is skandalízō and it means to cause someone to stumble – to trip up. it is where we get the word scandal.
Interestingly, Jesus offended many – he offended the religious leaders, he offended the people of his own hometown – and Jesus is still offending people today. He did not set out to offend, people take offense at Jesus, because he challenges them to change.
Jesus did not take offense when he was betrayed by Judas. Jesus did not take offense when he was attacked, hated, pursued, mocked, spit on, arrested, or crucified… instead, Jesus redeemed it all with his love.
1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
I am a follower of Jesus, but I fall short every day. Because I am a work in progress I must choose to get back up again. My confession here is a part of my getting back up.
As I entered this 12-month journey through residency, I knew it would not be easy. I chose this path because I knew I would be challenged, and I hoped, I would be changed. Change rarely comes easy. Sandpaper and chisels are used to shape and craft beautiful sculptures. Sandpaper and chisels are like the hard places in my life.
Hard places in my life threaten to poke holes in the bubble I have created to protect myself but leaning into the hard place and bursting my bubble is just what I need to grow. Of course, I can always stay in my familiar bubble, holding tightly to my offense… but that is not what I signed up for and it is not what Jesus calls me to do.
Luke 9:23 Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
This past month was a hard place for me. I think it was a hard place for all my peers as we struggled with the spirit of offense among us.
Recently in seminar I became triggered by something one of my peers said. Make no mistake, it was harsh, and would be considered offensive to many, if they choose to embrace it. I had the opportunity to invite my peer, in a calm and level tone, to explore his choice of words, but instead, I chose to be offended. The problem was as I spoke those words, I am offended by… it triggered emotions of anger and a newfound self-righteousness for being a female and for speaking my mind and I ended up attacking a friend. Not one of my finer moments.
Proverbs 12:16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
One of my growing edges as been learning to be bolder and to speak my mind. That is a good thing. I am also learning it can never be done from a place of offense. I realize my anger came not so much from the offensive words, but something deeper was triggered – something that needs to surface and be dealt with (welcome to CPE).
As I contemplate this event and look for a new way forward, I came across this:
Before you speak, ask yourself:
Is it true? T
Is it helpful? H
Is it inspiring? I
Is it necessary? N
Is it Kind? K
THINK before you speak. My new rule of life.
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
So back to my original question, is taking offense a right or a choice? Here is what I think: It is a free country; you have every right to take offense. While I will continue to grow in boldness and speaking my mind, I am going to choose not to take offense, but rather seek to understand and find healing. No offense.