Sometimes it seems as if everyone is offended, even offended by everyone’s offense. This past week AOC offended many with her baseless accusation that Senator Cruz “almost had her murdered.“ In turn she responded by being offended at the offended—didn’t they know that she had been a victim? Elaine on Seinfeld had a phrase for this, “ Yada, yada, yada.”
Being offended is a lot like seeking pity, it gets quick results but soon wearies everyone surrounding the primary dramatist. It has become a popular manipulative tool. To be better we should work at not being offended, or as Jesus put it, turning the other cheek. If I remember correctly He said, “ blessed are the peacemaker” not “placate the offended.”
We need to rise above the popular pattern of being offended and resist following the lead of the dominant pragmatic culture. Here are 5 helpful principles.
1. Accept that your ego and pride can be wounded. There are many ways your ego can be hurt—not being praised when you think you should be, not being accepted or included when you want to be, being misrepresented or misunderstood, and being insulted are but a few of the ways. As much as we all want to be “above it all” or the “be bigger person” we are also flesh and blood. It is vital we admit our weakness, acknowledge when hurts happens, and then intentionally act and live so that the “hurt people, hurt people”, cliché does not become the reality of our life.
2. Welcome constructive criticism. Not every critic is your enemy and not every criticism is intended to hurt. No one likes to hear that they are “less than”, but without knowing when we are how will we ever rise to “more than.” Becoming offended or defensive at every critique may be an indication that one’s idea of self is greater than the reality. If you want to be more than you are, then you need to know what you are. Be proactive in welcoming relationships that love you enough to help you see yourself objectively.
3. Don’t fall into the habit of using offense as a defense. There are few things more stimulating than a spirited discussion among friends over varying opinions, but this is not a sport for the obtuse or lazy. To avoid such verbal and cognitive exercise some embrace offense as a tool of avoidance to shut down the conversation. This is a self destructive behavior. When one learns being offended can win arguments and sway the affections of people it can become terribly addicting— to the point it becomes a learned and feigned response. Like bitterness, being offended is the shovel with which one digs their own grave. There is an old saying, “if you are easily offended, you are easily manipulated.
4. Recognize the danger of being unable to control your emotions. An inability to control one’s emotions (according to Stanford University psychologist James Gross) is at the root of psychological disorders such as depression and borderline personality disorder. The more you give your emotions the liberty to control you, the more they will. Contrary to popular opinion, discipline is neither narrow-minded, legalistic, or prudish—it is a key element of strong character and integrity. Humanity is God’s highest creation and although we are human, we are not beasts of the field, slaves to our instincts and emotions. God has created us with the capacity of reason, logic, and self-control. We may not be able to make ourselves feel right, but we can make ourselves act right. The excuses of “I can’t help it” or “I’m born this way” should be discarded in favor of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
5. Live in the Spirit not in the flesh. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh ... For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (Rom. 8:1-6)