Monthly Archives: June 2017

Stop being offended

Make up your mind not to be offended anymore. Your life will be better.

Last week I wrote these words on Facebook and my good friend Darin goaded me into writing a few more. So, I’m going to spend a few minutes about the dangers of unnecessary offense and a few potential solutions. DISCLAIMER: I write as one who is still in process with this myself, not as an expert. Carry on.

Why is choosing offense so dangerous?

When we choose to be offended we intentionally or otherwise place ourselves in an elevated position of self-importance, saying by our offense that it is our idea, belief cause, pet peeve that deserves to rue the day. If there cannot be total agreement, about every conceivable thing, than total disagreement is the only other option. In many ways this belief and resulting practice is manifest in the current polarization of our society. When we break everything down into “us vs. them”, true conversation, compromise and meaningful progress is nearly impossible.

When we choose to be offended we give up the possibility of being wrong, and what a glorious gift being wrong is. When we admit we are wrong, we have the opportunity for true growth and development in areas where we are limited. If we give up the possibility of being wrong, we will never grow.

Next, when we choose to be offended, rather than our voice becoming larger, it becomes smaller. Like the boy who cried wolf, the more we talk about our offense, the less people listen. This de-legitimizes true offense, numbing others from hearing our voice when we meaningfully engage with matters or real or ultimate importance.

Most importantly, when we choose to be offended we automatically give the offender power over us should only belong to King Jesus. There is a word in the Bible given for what happens when we give away power to created things; the word is Idolatry. Most of the time, it is our love of being angry, our love of our own ego, or our love of personal pride that we are fueling in being offended.

How do our lives become better when we choose not to be offended?

Our lives become better when we are in control of our emotions. When we are offended, we allow our emotions to be in the drivers seat, we allow them to lead us rather than us leading them. Think about the number of emotional decisions you have made, or the number of times you have uttered words in a moment of emotion. Chances are these are decisions and words you wish you had back, or in the very least wish you could have crafted more thoughtfully. There is a reason why Scripture spends so much time talking about how we must guard our heart, how it is desperately wicked and conversely, the benefit of renewing our mind, taking every thought captive.

Truthfully, Choosing to be offended is our problem not somebody else’s. We don’t have the power to do anything about what another person says, does, or posts on social media; nor do we know their motivations for doing so. We do however have a choice in how we respond to such things. That’s why being offended is something we make up our mind about. We have the power and opportunity to lead our mind and emotion instead of being lead by our mind and emotion.

In this incredibly compelling interview with Jocko Willnk (super long, but super good!) POW Charlie Plumb talks about sharing an 8’ cell with another prisoner for years. He said in an environment like that it is easy to become annoyed with what the other man does. His habits, sleeping patterns, the way he smelled; all of these challenges being ripe fodder for annoyance. Yet, he realized that his cell-mates habits being bothersome was his problem, not that of his cell mate. If a POW in Vietnam can have the presence of mind to treat his fellow prisoners habits as his own personal issue to overcome, then surely we can exercise a bit more resolve and discipline when we view a stupid meme on Facebook

Our lives become better when we hold our ideas in tiered humility. In life we should have certain ideas, values and morals we are willing to fight and die for. If we haven’t such things we cease being cogent, conscious and competent humans. Yet, we must know the difference between close handed issues (things we are willing to fight over), and open handed issues, (those which we are willing to walk hand and hand with). Not everything is a close handed issue.

Our lives become better when we live in real relationship with people. The solution to much of our unreasonable offense can be found in having conversations with real people in real relationships. I am very fortunate to have valuable friendships with people who see life differently and hold different values than I do. We don’t always agree, and frankly some of what they say and believe makes me uncomfortable. Yet even when I am prone to offense, my love for the person and the value of our relationship is far more important than my feeling of offense. How often is the source of what we are offended by someone we don’t even know? Why do we so easily give power and credibility to people we can never influence?

Finally, our lives become better when we spend our energy towards things/people/issues we can affect. This is the true way to make our lives and that of our neighborhoods, communities and society better.

So the next time you are tempted towards offense. Take a second and detach from the heat of the moment. Don’t write the Facebook rant, don’t repost the stupid meme, don’t start a fight with your spouse. Call a friend you disagree with on the phone and have a conversation, play kickball with your kids, go for a walk. Quit taking yourself and every thought you have ever had so seriously. If we all commit to doing this, we will all be much much happier.

 

 

Joy Stealers

When I was a senior in high school my uncle Steve was killed in a car accident. The following Sunday I was singing in the praise team at church and I remember my pastor’s wife coming to me and saying that she could just see the joy of the Lord in me, even on a day of tragedy.

All these years later and her words still stick with me. I often think, can others see the joy of the Lord in me?   Can my children? Can my husband? When I think of Joy I think of something deeper than happiness.  While happiness is often fleeting, joy remains when hard times come.  We are not going to be happy every minute of the day, but we can choose deep joy because we have Jesus. We have joy because of His love for us.  We know all of this true.

Yet, if we know this to be true, why on a daily basis do we choose to curl up in our own little sad shell and not be joyful?  One word, idolatry. My husband often says, “the root of all sin is idolatry and the root of idolatry is radical self-centeredness and selfishness. It’s wanting what we want more than what God wants.”

On any given day there are several boxes I like to check off on my “happy list”. My list can vary but the items consistently include- time in the morning to be quiet and read, time to exercise uninterrupted, good coffee beans in my possession, time to get ready and not feel like a slob, a good breakfast, time to pick up said good breakfast, happy children, happy children who are helpful and not arguing. While this is all well and good on the surface it can become dangerous when the very things that contribute to our happiness, begin to steal our joy when they are unmet.

We have a word for the things in life that we allow to give us meaning, value and purpose that we should only derive from Jesus. Idols. What we are saying when we allow our joy to be dictated by the things on our happy list is that they are more important than what we know to be true in King Jesus.

Do I get to be short tempered with my kids because my morning didn’t go just how I like?  No.  Choosing grumpiness is not just selfishness, but idolatry. If I am letting all of my “wants” cause my attitude to be sour than I am no better off then my 1,3,5 and 7 year olds.  Sometimes it feels impossible to reset the day when everything is not going correctly.

Yet, in those moments, rather than being crushed I can lift up my day, attitude and frustrations to my Heavenly Father OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I know that I can’t be the mother and the wife He has called me to be without complete reliance on him.

Friends, we shouldn’t allow our circumstances to be joy stealers! Every day I have to remind myself that the moments of crabbiness, sleepiness and immaturity on behalf of my kids and myself are part of mothering/parenting and this is what I am called to do right now. If I lose joy over little things such as this, how am I any different then one of my children who might throw themselves on the floor when they are upset?

I am begging the Lord for His joy to take over my day and my attitude.  I am asking for His unwavering love to be present when I have let too much of myself in the way.

Quick side note.. as a mom I know that I do need to take care of myself.  I do need to take time to do things that feed my soul which in turn make me a better mother, wife, friend. My point is when you have those moments, soak them up and be refilled!  Other times though lets put aside our selfish ways and love like Jesus.  I pray that the Joy of the Lord flows out of me even if I am in yesterdays clothes, eating cereal and stuck inside playing kitchen for the billionth time.  This is what I signed up for.  Lord, let all of You pour out of me.  I want the Joy of the Lord to be seen in me, even inside my house when the door is closed.

 

Father’s Day Reflections 2017

Father’s Day has always been an incredibly bitter sweet day for me. For many years the bitter was all I tasted as I was filled with a lot of anger, pain and resentment. My dad has never lived up to my expectations; yet I imagine he hasn’t lived up to his own expectations either. This feeling is a lot like I feel about my fifteen year old Volkswagen; the idea of how great it could be is far better than what I get to drive around everyday.

I gave up being bitter a long time ago. For many years, the root of my bitterness came more from feeling like I lost something I was owed more than any real anger I had towards him as a man. I felt like he took something from me, innocence, money, security, freedom. Mostly, he just took time.

When I look in the mirror I see glimpses of him. I see him in my eyes and my hair. I can smell him in my aftershave, hear him in my own laugh and quick wit, and feel him in my own pride, arrogance and anger. In my most honest moments I will tell you my greatest fears all revolve around being like him, and the danger of throwing life’s most important things away in selfishness and addiction.

If I mourn the loss of anything, I mourn the loss of his life in my life. When I was a senior in High School I remember sitting on the pock marked linoleum in the kitchen of our rental house crying uncontrollably because I didn’t know how to put line on my fishing pole. I felt deficient. I felt lost. I felt alone. I mourn the loss of all his knowledge, skill and insight. There have been many times I’ve wondered how deficient my own fatherhood is because of this. What skills, knowledge, history will not make it to the next generation because it failed to be passed on to this one?

If I mourn the loss of anything, I mourn his loss of my life in his life. God has been and is so so good. My wife is a treasure, like the first cup of coffee in the morning. She is so unbelievably consistent, yet everyday with her is still like Christmas. My children, my four children, are like the most glorious kaleidoscope, with colors whirling, and dancing, and spinning, always moving and never ever boring. Yet, like a man without sight, he is unable to see. He is unable to see all this good, all this glory, all this joy.

As I sit and think about my story, my mind often returns to the goodness of God and the words of King David in both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, “Who am I oh Lord, and what is my family that you have brought me this far? And you didn’t stop there, oh God! You have also spoken about the future of your servants family.” David, in awe of what God would do with someone like him and his family offers praise at what has happened and joyful expectation of what is coming. May I be and do the same.

 

 Scroll to top