Overcoming Offense

Have you ever had someone drop a bomb on you about all the ways you’ve offended them? The detailed gut-spill of incidents may go back years, and interestingly, you may not remember the incidents at all.

Offense is a strange commodity. Some overcome being offended rapidly and regain forward motion. Others store offense, ruminate on it, allow it to control their lives, and then, use it to wound those they consider their offenders.

Sometimes, it feels like everyone, everywhere is in a constant state of offense. Have you noticed? One comment, spoken without forethought and with no intention of offense, precipitates immediate and sweeping action on the part of others. And the result of our offense-prone society is that we’re all becoming leery of saying anything.

Here are some things to remember as we navigate the current climate of our overly sensitive and easily-offended culture:

Freedom of speech, butWe have the freedom to express ourselves, however, use this freedom wisely. You are entitled to your opinion, but others don’t have to agree with it. Honesty is always good, but learning to speak the truth with kindness is a valuable skill.

Look below the surface. When something you said or did offends someone, there is usually something deeper going on.

Several times in my life, I’ve experienced having someone unload on me about all the ways I’ve offended them. In every case, jealousy, low self-esteem, or misunderstanding was involved in their taking offense.

In addition, sometimes those who store offenses react because they are dealing with past, or present, situations that cause them to be offense prone. They can’t attack the real target, so they lash out at you. Thankfully, I’m usually able to read beneath actual words to the attached emotions, but that doesn’t make the attack any less painful.

Take your feelings off your sleeve. Several years ago, I attended a conference and a group of us ate together the first night. We didn’t know each other but had a great time together.

Several days later, one of the women came up to me and said, “I hope I didn’t offend you.” I must have looked puzzled because she continued, “I hope you weren’t offended when I blew past you on the way to lunch.” I had to strain to remember that we waved, and she dashed on. I smiled and said, “No worries. I’m not easily offended.”

Later, I thought she must have someone in her life who looks for excuses to take offense. What a burden!

We live in a me-centric world. People are focused on themselves and looking for ways others offend them. Don’t become like the world!

Extend grace. An author and speaker once told me that when someone took issue with her writings or criticized her following a speech, she had learned to smile, look them in the eye, and say “thank you.” She went on to say it’s impossible for someone to continue tearing you down when you thank them for what they said.

In a similar fashion, I have learned that when someone is offended, the best come back is “I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” even when you don’t feel you are at fault.

Your willingness to extend grace defuses the offense and models the grace God lavishes on us.

“A person with discretion is not easily angered, he gains respect by overlooking an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 VOICE).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

To receive Candy’s blog, Forward Motion, via email, go to https://candyarrington.com/blog/ and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.




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