Have you ever found yourself frustrated by people who aren’t paying attention in traffic and inevitably force you to slam on your brakes? I certainly have. After an eye roll and a possible snarky comment, I may have wished a citation upon them.
Why do we allow such trivial matters to dictate our days? Why in the world do we get so easily offended by the actions of others? It might be likely that we identify too much with being right. Think about my traffic example. Maybe you think: I’d never cut someone off—because I’m an excellent driver.
Essentially, we get angry because we assume we’re a better person than the bad driver. We too quickly forget we’re all in the same boat: the imperfect boat. We all fall short of God’s perfection. We might even assume others are intentionally trying to provoke or hurt us. We form instant negative opinions about others based on this hurtful assumption. We can’t allow our unfounded feelings to wreak havoc in our lives. Feelings are meant to indicate, not dictate. Recognize them, but then focus on the facts.
Here are three ways to help you avoid becoming easily offended.
1. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Proverbs 19:11 gives us the wisdom to overlook an offense. People don’t always intend to hurt you. So, if you want to assume, just assume they didn’t mean to hurt you. Maybe they’re responding to real hurt and stress in their life. You and I have probably said offensive things we didn’t mean, and people have probably shown us grace. Let’s reciprocate that. A person with a mature faith will abstain from making assumptions and instead choose to give the benefit of the doubt.
2. Lighten up. When we get offended, we assume that the other person had us in mind. That, my friend, is arrogance. There is a strong chance that you weren’t even in the equation when they said or did that offensive thing. Lighten up by not making yourself the center of the world—and lighten up by letting go of the offense faster than it can weigh you down.
3. Talk yourself off the ledge. When you feel an offense rising up, ask yourself: Why does this bother me? Will this even matter in a day or a week? We must get to the core of why we are so upset. The only thing we gain by being offended is chaos on the inside.
Remember: No one can make you feel offended. Will people say devastating things that make it difficult to remain unoffended? Yes. But can we really stop them? No.
We cannot choose their actions, but we can choose how we respond—like letting go or creating boundaries for situations that show themselves to be repeatedly hurtful. Then, we can choose to give people the benefit of the doubt and talk ourselves down from situations when our offenses begin to skyrocket.
Pray: Father, help me to walk in freedom from offenses. May I generously shower people with the grace You’ve showered upon me. In Jesus’ name, amen.