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I’m so offended!

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Laura Day Lewis. Raised in the land Bountiful, Utah she now resides on the Lewis “Farm” outside of Boston, MA. She is wife to one, and called “Mom” by 3 boys, 1 girl, and a dog. As the best hair stylist around, a visit to her chair is filled with highlights of laughter

My heart broke the day my 7th grader came home from school upset because a kid was teasing him. I was able to hug him and sympathize as he begged, “CAN WE PLEASE MOVE?!”

I broke the news to him that moving to a different state wouldn’t solve his problems. Regardless of where you live or how old you are, there will always be people you don’t see eye to eye with. There will be unkind words spoken, some intentional, some not. With that being said, regardless of where I live or how old I am, I face it constantly. It’s up to ME to decide how I will handle each situation.

My personal therapist, aka my Dad, often told me, “No one can MAKE YOU FEEL anything!”

Meaning, if someone “makes” you mad, YOU are making the choice to be mad.

If someone “makes” you feel inadequate, YOU are allowing it.

Or if someone “makes” you feel dumb, YOU doubt yourself.

Hearing this through out my growing up years, I have tried to be responsible for my attitude–to “OWN” my feelings. I really do believe Eleanor Roosevelt spoke the truth when she said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Just as my son thought moving would solve his problems, I once thought age would solve things. When I was young, I was under the false impression that all adults were kind/considerate and never had hurt feelings. I was certain that survival of middle school and high school meant I’d live happily every after. I realize now, unkind words or actions sadly don’t end at graduation. So owning my feelings and choosing no offense, has become a life long lesson. A life long challenge!

When I heard this quote from David A. Bednar, I couldn’t help but remember the lesson my dad tried to teach me.  He  emphasized that we have a choice when it comes to being offended. He said it is ultimately impossible for another person to offend us. 

“Certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”

It’s so easy to harbor hurt feelings and build resentment. Then the  instinctive reaction is to project  those hurt feelings on another person, because misery loves company. Using them as a learning experience, well that’s  a lot harder. 

I believe the actions of others can invite feelings of hurt / sadness / or happiness. The thing I have full control over is letting those feelings in and how I handle them. In all practicality though, it’s so much easier said than done, something my 7th grader was realizing.

How do you deal with your own hurt feelings? How have you overcome being hurt or offended? How do we help our children learn ownership over their own emotions in a blame culture?

51 thoughts on “I’m so offended!”

  1. I loved my grandfather more than almost any one else in the world. He was almost perfect! However, one of the most important lessons I learned from him was because of something he did wrong. When he was a young father, his own father passed away. For various legitimate reasons, he was left a slightly larger nheritance than his siblings. He had two brothers-in-law who were brothers and they were furious that their wives didn't get equal shares. The funeral was held in the home, as was common at that time. As my grandfather left the house after the funeral, they jumped him and started a fight. Bottom line – although he had every right to be angry, my grandfather never forgave them. When he died more than 35 years later, he had never again spoken to those sisters, their husbands or their children. I always thought that was so sad. The sisters tried to make up after their husbands had died, but he refused. I learned from him that even when an offense appears to be justified, it makes no one happy to allow it to simmer. We need to let it go. Sometimes, it takes me a while to work through it, but I have learned the effort is worth it in the end.

  2. Sadly I see this often at church. I try to remind members that the gospel is perfect, the people are not. I have seen such damage in other people's life because of this…examples such as the comment above mine. It's devestating and destructive. Because of this…I choose NOT to make misery MY company. Thanks for this and I LOVE the picture. 🙂

  3. I think others affect the way we feel. If they didn't, why were we put here together? But I also feel that we pick how to take things. It isn't always magical tho, sometimes we do have to take time to work things through – good and bad.

    I actually think Church is the best place to learn these lessons. I mean, you can get REALLY hurt there and REALLY loved. Nasty lousy things can be said, implied, gossiped, advice laden. It also can be encouraging and uplifting.

    But no matter what, you gotta go back, and slap that smile on your face, so you don't slap their's (hehe, but true). Not put your heart on your sleeve, always. And reach out to do it one more time. (No, of course I haven't gone thru anything lately.)

  4. Great post and great comments. I think that learning to forgive is one of the more important lessons for us all to learn in this life.

    If your child has a problem with bullies, I would recommend getting the book Bullies to Buddies by Izzy Kalman. He is not a member of the church, but is a wonderful insightful Jewish man. His suggestions are completely in line with what the gospel teaches: treat enemies like you would your friends, choose not to be offended, choose not to be a victim. I wish I would have had this when I was a kid. It would have spared me a lot of pain. You can buy a paperback copy or download a free version at bullies2buddies.com.

  5. This is a good post. I agree with it, but there are things we should be cautious of.

    A child has to be taught how to take care of themselves emotionally and physically. Sometimes we teach children to love one another to a fault, they can see our admonitions to "be nice" as a call to lay down and allow others to walk all over them. My daughter also had problems with a bully, her nose was bloodied in school. The girl who did it lived across the street from us. My daughter and I had many conversations about how to "be nice" while at the same time protecting herself emotionally and physically. It is a continuing dialog, we can't throw out a couple of platitudes and expect children to understand what they mean. Thanks for the book recommendation rk (I love that it's available online!)

    In this world where so many have been injured as children it can be harder for them to understand these intricacies as adults. Many people, even in the church, are the walking wounded, having little or no emotional or spiritual guidance growing up. We can be sensitive to others feelings while at the same time developing a tough skin ourselves. I think this is a post that is best applied to ourselves, but not to others. What I mean by that is that we personally should internalize these concepts but we should not expect someone we have offended to "get over it". Apologies are always a good thing.

    And even when we adopt these concepts, it is a process, forgiving someone or healing takes time and effort.

  6. I can't think of a time I've actually been offended–I mean, what's the point? Most of the time people don't mean to be offensive, so get over it. When I think they might mean it, I just feel sad that they have something unhappy in their lives underlying their behavior. I have so many blessings, so many wonderful relationships, so many reasons to be happy–I refuse to spend any precious moments harboring thoughts that will take away my purpose of being here, which is to have joy.

  7. Great post Laura. My dad used to tell us much the same and I try to live by it. My experience has been that although people do say the wrong thing sometimes, most don't intend to be hurtful. And sometimes the hurtful things they say come from their own insecurities.

    That said, in the past few years I've been involved in blogging, forums, comment boards–even here at Segullah sometimes–I have become aware of people who are simply mean spirited and who will say anything to get attention. It's been a rude awakening and it makes me sad. I do still have a choice, however. I don't have to spend time reading it and I don't have to be offended by it.

    Recently I attended an event during which I sat next to someone who has done things that have been very offensive to me. We have tried to be good neighbors to each other over the years, yet I know she has said some simply awful things about my children and my family. Because I know her actions come from her own issues and struggles and that things she has said about my kids simply are not true, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I no longer felt hurt by her words and I bore her no ill will. We had an enjoyable conversation and there were only good feelings between us. I am going to keep trying to be a good neighbor and a friend.

  8. I remember a few years ago I couldn't imagine being offended by someone at church. I loved being there and the thought of someone making so angry I wouldn't want to attend anymore was mindboggling.
    That was until I was offended by a good friend. Our daughters had been best buddies in nursery and then they continued into Primary. They sat next to each other and were a little chatty but I remember thinking I'm so happy they enjoy coming together. I was a primary teacher and so was my friend so we were both able to moniter our children. At first things were fine but over time my friends daughter stopped talking to my daughter. She would say things like you get me in trouble or I can't sit next to you. I would tell my daughter it's okay your friends mom really wants her to sit quietly. This went on for a year! We really tried to enforce reverence ect… they wouldn't speak for a few weeks and then just when things would get better. It would start over again. All this time they were just sunbeams. Finally my daughter just didn't want to go to church. Then one Sunday when we got to primary my friend got up and told my daughter she was not allowed to sit next to her daughter. she made her switch seats with another boy. I had, had it! I was sitting right there my daughter wasn't even speaking to her daughter. When I got home that day I called my friend and said that I understand that she would like her daughter to remain reverent all through primary but that it really bothered me that she would move my daughter's seat before primary even started, when my daughter was sitting quietly and please don't do it again. I was right there and could take care of my daughter. My friend explained that since the teacher of our daughter's class was not there it was perfectly with in her rights to move my daughter and that she was just trying to help with reverence. I was shocked no apology just a reason for why she thought it was in her right to be a control freak! She went on to call the Primary President to say that I was mean and the Primary President called me to say that I needed an attitude adjustment and had to take the hire more understanding road. I was baffled! Then I was released from Primary and my daughter was moved to an all boy class. For about a year I couldn't even look at my friend without my insides turning into knots. I didn't even want to go to church. Then one Sunday then spirit told me I needed to forgive my friend. So after our meetings I Asked her if I could speak to her for a minute. I apologized for being upset with her and for any part I had in the whole scuffle. I immediately felt a release of all the pain and anger I had been harboring. I actually had to put my hand on the wall to stable myself. My friend responded by saying thankyou for my apology and that she didn't think we could be friends again because she didn't know when that monster would come out of me again! No apology or anything from her she just called me a monster! I smiled and said well I just wanted to apologize. I let it all go that day. I now understand how people can be offended.

  9. I try to remember that when someone is being unlovable that is when they need love the most. When someone is doing things that are hurtful they are hurting. I helps a lot not to personalize everything. It also helps to do something nice for the person it is so difficult to be nice to.

  10. Claudia, true true! It reminds me of the saying
    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
    THANK YOU for each of your comments…I always love hearing personal experiences.
    I do want to address something jendoop said.
    I could not agree more with the point that there are so many walking wounded. The idea of "get over it" is certainly not the attitude we should take. And YES, learning to apologize when we have wronged others is just as important as saying please and thank you.
    I appreciate you bringing that up!

  11. As I read this post and the comments, I was thinking about past conflicts in my life. When I was 15, we went to youth conference and when we returned, my MIA Maid advisor asked me what had happened with another girl in our class because she had told the advisor that she would never be returning to church and it was my fault. I know the advisor only told me this in the hopes I knew what was going on and the situation could be repaired. But I didn't know what was going on, I had done nothing out of the ordinary (and no matter how many millions of times I analyzed the weekend, I couldn't figure out how I had been mean or uninclusive) and instead have lived the intervening 20+ years knowing that I don't really have responsibility over her church activity and the path her life took, but still kind of feeling the weight of it and wondering what I did. As a result, I try very hard not to give offense, but find that there are people who take it anyway regardless. (or perhaps I am still far more ham-fisted than I think I am)

    As far as taking offense, there have been situations in my life that can be difficult to get past. Almost without exception, they involve people I have trusted and with whom I have felt a connection who then do something so hurtful that it literally takes the breath out of me–akin to what Anon. #9 described. I try to make my peace, to forgive and ask forgiveness and be done, but I think that the trust is gone. The experience teaches me something unintended about them and about the true nature of our relationship that changes things. I have felt that this change is emotionally healthy, but maybe I am just disguising and redressing my offense. Am I?

    It's sad to say that there are adult bullies and catty grown ups just as much as there are bullies and mean girls in our youth. I agree with jendoop's comments about self-protection for ourselves as well as for our children. But ultimately, I think that every time we allow ourselves to take offense, we are giving away agency–kind of like those indigenous tribes you always hear of who believe taking photographs takes a part of your soul–and agency is too valuable a commodity to waste on petty grievances.

  12. My husband had an employee stab him in the back and tell my husbands boss that he just couldn't work for him any more! And none of the accusations he made were justified, and he had no proof, but his boss listened to him and promoted the guy and the guy still can't stand to work with my husband even though nothing happened! People!

    I try really hard not to get offended or hold grudges, but I admit I didn't go to Relief Society for 2 years after a lesson in which the teacher said the only reason we (women) are on earth is to bear children and raise a righteous family, and as I was going through infertility at the time it was like a knife going in, not to mention the fact that I'm pretty certain our first and foremost responsibility is to secure our own salvation—anyway, I told the Relief Society president how hurt I was, and she basically said well it's important to learn about motherhood, and I told the Bishop and he didn't help either–so I just stopped going to Church because I couldn't handle coming home and feeling worthless and like a failure because I couldn't get pregnant like everybody else and all I would hear about was child rearing. Eventually I started going back, but I had to remove myself from that painful/unhelpful environment for awhile.

    So now I try to let things go early on and even apologize even when I don't want to, but it's still hard.

  13. Great post! Jendoop, I grapple with this all the time. I have learned how not to take offense myself, which helps me talk to my daughter more confidently, but I always have the 'bully radar' on when she's telling me things. My daughter is sensitive and has a tender heart. It is difficult to determine if she is reading too much into the sometimes very normal silliness of other classmates, or if they are potential (mostly emotional) threats to her. I'm sure her tender heart is like a target to some other children, especially at their age (5th grade). We take all of her worries seriously and try very hard not to discount anything she is saying. I think you are correct. This has to be navigated carefully.

    I many times feel exactly the way Shelly does, but many of us grow up in homes where we haven't been taught these great principles and it often takes some learning and practice to get it right. People like those who Anon described baffle me! I remember a girl that I visit taught, and tried so hard to befriend, being this type of person. We bought a boat one summer (second hand, not running) and I told her about it. She very disdainfully replied that she and her husband would never do that because they had their priorities straight. Fortunately, I was unaffected because I had been trying to be nothing but nice to her for months. I thought, "What can I do?" I knew we were not being frivolous, but even if we were, did she have the right to say that?

    What I have learned is that we have no control over what another person chooses to say or do. We can only control how we react. When it comes to a good friend (or someone we thought was a good friend) the same applies. Angie f's question is one I have considered. I have forgiven a friend who really hurt me. But, because she continues to slander many people in our Stake, I don't hang out with her like I used to. I know that anything personal I tell her may become fodder for discussion/gossip. I truly believe that the Lord does not expect us to repeatedly put ourselves back into situations where we are subject to continued offense/abuse. I have forgiven my friend, but I'm not willing to let her use me for her gossip. I don't have any ill feelings, just sadness. That's basically what I feel for others who do or say really ignorant things. I try to feel compassion for them because I know that they either will one day feel horrible for what they've done or how they've acted, or if they don't, then I have compassion for the misery that they must carry around with them that makes them act that way. It has taken a lot of thought and practice to make this a more automatic response within myself, but it is totally a possibility in my life to adopt Elder Bednar's counsel.

  14. May I respectfully disagree? Other people CAN offend you. Your choice is whether or not to STAY offended. If people couldn't offend you, why would there be anything to hold a grudge about at all? or even a concept such as "holding a grudge"? It happens.

    What you're really asking is for people to let go of their grudges in a microsecond rather than holding onto to them. And that's a hard lesson for anyone to learn, but we must learn it.

    Please don't say people can't make you mad, because it's just not true.

  15. Thanks for this great post and for the ensuing discussion. Anon– I am so sorry.

    I love jendoops advice to apply this to ourselves but not to others. My husband made a goal last year to be "insensitive" (his joke). But he really meant that he wasn't going to take offense. He said it made a huge difference in his happiness.

  16. Interesting post. Respectfully, I've heard this lesson before, including at General Conference. And as I suggested the last time this came up in EQ, "Why do we always hear 'Don't be offended,' and never 'Don't be OFFENSIVE!'?" Mormons are eminently capable of being shortsighted, ignorant, judgmental, and even hostile. That doesn't remove the Christian burden of forgiveness from those who have been hurt, certainly, but just once I'd like to hear a talk that says, "Hey, people! There are a lot of things that can shake a person's faith–don't let bad behavior on your part be one of them!"

    (Also, as I just posted at FMH: if a child does something destructive or hostile but insists "I didn't mean it!" that doesn't make the act any less bad, and it doesn't lead us to just ignore what happened. So why should we extend automatic forgiveness to careless adults who "don't mean it"?)

  17. Bro Jones, I think we do get counsel not to be offensive. Elder Eyring gave a wonderful talk about serving in the church. Within the talk he was very explicit that what we do in our callings has a huge impact on others. "Just the way you smile or the way you offer to help someone can build their faith. And should you forget who you are, just the way you speak and the way you behave can destroy faith." Henry B. Eyring, Oct 2002.

    I also remember President Hinckley giving a talk about not being offensive to those not of our faith.

    Those are specific examples, but within many talks there is a reference to using kind words, or treating each other with respect due to children of God. Just because there isn't a talk entitled "Don't be offensive" doesn't mean the issue hasn't been addressed by modern prophets.

  18. I agree with everything you said. I remember a quote that said:

    "Holiding a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee."

    How true is that? The grudge only hurts you! More likely then not the person has no idea he/she even offended you in the first place.

  19. Isn't every single lesson and discussion about charity, kindness, love, service and developing Christlike attributes inherently about seeking a far higher objective than "don't be offensive"? I think we do hear a lot of talks that say don't let your bad behavior be a contributing factor in the weakening of someone's spiritual foundation. We particularly hear this with regard to parenting. Elder Haight's (I think) talk about not being a weak link comes to my mind as a powerful and timeless one. But I think our society has gone from trying to create more sensitivity to other points of view to the current PC trend where too many are oversensitive and too willing to come out with guns blazing as it were, failing to realize that when we allow ourselves to take offense, we (and our loved ones) are the ones who suffer most profoundly. Yes, we should do all in our power to bolster the faith of others, but ultimately the person who allows his/her faith to be shaken has allowed their faith to become vulnerable long before the bad behavior happened. For every story I know of someone who left the fold of full fellowship in the church over some offense, I know at least one of someone who had far more egregious reasons to leave the faith but chose instead to hold on even more tightly to their testimony.

  20. I've always worked really hard at not taking offense–even when I felt like it was justified. But this year it has been particularly difficult as issues have arisen within our families that have really taken their toll. I still believe it, but it's been a particular trial to live it. Thank you for your words on the subject and for the comments above. It's so nice to hear the experiences of others and how they have handled it. It gives me courage to do the same.

  21. #21 Thanks for the references to the talks, I appreciate them and I will go look up the talk by Elder Eyring.

    #23 It's not so much that we never hear admonitions to be kind and Christlike, but in particular talks on "being offended" never seem to say, "You know what? The person who was offended had a perfectly valid reason to be hurt, but God bless them for being Christlike and choosing to forgive and love rather than feel anger. May God bless the offender to likewise seek patience, love, and forgiveness." It's almost like the person doing the offending disappears from the story completely.

    This "turning the other cheek" approach is great for our "enemies," but for our brothers and sisters within the Church of Jesus Christ who trespass against us, I feel like treating offense and forgiveness as one-way issues doesn't give them sufficient treatment.

  22. I agree with mormonhermitmom (#18). If you get in your car and there's a rattlesnake, you're "allowed" to be afraid. Anyone would be scared in that situation. Now, if you never get in a car again for fear of the snake being there, you've crossed the line.
    If someone says something truly hurtful, it's normal to be hurt. How long you choose to be offended, how many people you choose to tell about what Sister Rudy Rude said, etc. is the issue.

  23. Lots of good points in this discussion.

    I do agree we have great control over emotions. One of my most fascinating grad school classes I had was emotional and moral development. The interplay of it all is so complex. Our society champions all our emotionas as valid and authentic and therefore doesn't place much cultural significance on altering those. We can change our perceptions of threat and offense in situations through "coping" methods and cognitive tools. I also see taking offense as require more sort of cognitive assignment and judgement. I was reminded of this as I was doing the "watch you thoughts, words, and deeds" mastery scripture with my sem kids today– thoughts to me being the most interesting of the list.

    Bro jones- I do agree we need to be less offensive and we need to all hear _BE NICE_ more as well as don't get offended. Controlling our tongues can be hard. Our society has become so "say what you think" which is in direct contrast to the 13th art of faith.

    I also agree that sometimes we get soft on doctrine for fear of giving offense in an ever PC world.

    I hard thing is we project our own experience and judgement on others statements and actions far more than we attempt to look at them in perhaps the spirit of intention or perspective of the person saying. And well if it was doen in a mean spirited or malicious way then obviously they have other issues.

    My strategy is generally if someone says something hurtful –I ignore it. Really I just figure they are foolish, misinformed, or oblivious…

  24. Great post + good comments.
    We can all benefit from these truths and lessons, but right now, I'm printing this out for my 5th – 8th grade/age boys — 3 of them — that have been having some of the same troubles you describe with your son. Some school experiences can be so brutal, yes? Thanks for this post.

  25. #20 – Bro. Jones, this talk may address some of your concerns:

    "It is with this realization of the power and sanctity of words that I wish to caution us, if caution is needed, regarding how we speak to each other and how we speak of ourselves."


    (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Tongue of Angels,” Ensign, May 2007, 16–18)

  26. okay, so maybe "get over it" was harsh. I guess those are the words I say to myself but not necessarily what I mean to say to everyone else. Leslie says to ignore it–that's a nicer way of saying what I meant.

  27. I don't really agree with you, and I don't think any real therapists would either. Feelings are just that, emotional kneejerk reactions that we can't help. Its what we DO with those feelings that counts. And you know what? Sometimes that means feeling angry or sad about it for awhile, venting to a couple friends, receiving the validation you need, and then moving on. And thats OKAY. Why is it that Mormons feel the need to be constantly happy? Thats NOT normal. Its healthy and necessary to feel your feelings and have them validated.

    I mean, I get your point, we shouldn't get all hung up about it and let it effect us for the rest of our lies because Jimmy called us "ugly" in 7th grade. But at the time, it is a big deal, and we should validate our children's feelings and let them know its okay to feel sad or angry about things, and then help them to work through it. Not to just stuff them in a pretty package and ignore them and pretend they don't exist, or give them a guilt complex about it "its your own fault if you ever feel sad or upset or someone hurts your feelings". Thats pretty uncompassionate and also sets them up to not be understanding and compassionate to others. If you hurts someone's feelings, whether you intended to or not, its your fault and you should apologize. You don't just say, well, they didn't have to choose to be offended.

  28. I welcome all comments, whether we agree or not. It's interesting to hear the different opionion and thoughts on the subject.
    I feel I did validate my sons feelings, there was more to the discussion between he and I, and there continues to be. I was just making sure he understood that moving or running away wouldn't solve the problem of hurt feelings. I wasn't wrapping it in a pretty package, I felt I was pretty honest, yet sympathetic.
    I agree with you 100%, we should validate our childrens feelings and help them recognize what they are feeling.
    and YES, if you have been hurtful to someone, an apology, sincere apology, is in order.
    MY point in this post was IF we make the choice to be offended we will be-

  29. "How do we help our children learn ownership over their own emotions in a blame culture?"

    A bully makes a child feel unsafe. Empower the child. Help her to muster resources, physical and spiritual, adult and childish, to create a safe solution. An empowered child with a plan and resources has a far better opportunity to feel in control of her emotions.

    An offender inclines a person to feel rejected. Empower the potential offendee by teaching her to totally recognize the love that God (and hopefully you) have for her. Teach her to feel that she does not need to hide her sins from herself or from Him, and teach of his quick desire to forgive her own mistakes. As she experiences that from Him, she will be empowered to, with love, overcome her need to be affirmed by others and to reduce her frustrations with her own sins and the sins of others.

    Most of the times I have been offended have been because I am feeling insecure about my self-worth or need others to be better than they are. Learning and experiencing the love of God is what keeps me free from that.

  30. Something I have learned when insulted, hurt or being offended by something someone has said or done, is to respond, not react.

    Usually, I don't even respond to the person involved – it's all internal. It doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt to be part of the situation, but learning to look objectively at the situation (where did it happen? do I know everything behind what caused it to happen? Is there any truth to the comment? What is upsetting me most about it? What is the spirit telling me?) means that I can respond to the situation (if not the person) calmly, having deliberately and consciously chosen to hang on or let go of the emotion and baggage that the event/slur/action generated. It's hard to work through, sometimes, but I'm much happier and I think more stable than I would otherwise be.

    Agency – it's all about choice. I try to choose not to be offended…though I'm still slogging through the 'pray for those that hate/spitefully use you' part =)

  31. What about when the person involved is saying things that hurt you, but she is "just being honest, because I will not lie about things anymore!" (direct quote)when the things said are not a constructive critisism, or in any way helpful, they are just mean? Does it excuse the person saying the comment from having tact, or does it mean I need a thicker skin? I admit, I have been developing a thicker skin, and most comments this person makes, just roll off, but every now and then, one gets through, and really stings. Does that make me a weak, or pathetic person, for feeling hurt?
    Some people intend to hurt us with thier words. That is a matter of fact. Sometimes they hide behind thier callings, sometimes behind "truth" as they see it, and are able to justify their hurtful ways. But I also don't think that being hurt by them should be just brushed away. Yes, we choose to be hurt or offended, but sometimes, without provocation people use thier actions to hurt us intentionally. that is wrong and should never be ok. I am certainly not advocating climbing a bell tower in a clown suit and shooting those who have upset you, but I don't think that bullies should be allowed to get away with constantly hurting us. If we wouldn't allow someone to bully our child, we sure as heck should never let them bully us!
    When someone tries to "put me in my place", I usually grin, make some smart alec remark, and move on. I try real hard to never let that person see what their comment may have done to me, or to let it affect me. People say and do stupid things. It's part of being human. I have said stupid things. (heck I am doing it right now!)But I try very hard to make sure whatever comes out of my mouth is not going to hurt the person to which they are going!
    I wish more people did this, or at least practiced…

  32. Some offending happened in my life a few months back.

    One of the ways that has helped me heal is to serve the person who offended me. And then, serve them again and again.

    In service, we move towards healing and mending the ties that have been severed.

  33. I don't believe anyone in the Church has ever tried to hurt me intentionally. When someone makes a critical comment or suggestion to me, which has been rare, I listen and try to honestly see if I have been, even partially, in the wrong. If so, I apologize and change. If not, I apologize and resolve to be more careful around that person in the future.

    I am of the persuasion that no relatively peripheral person in your life should be able to "make" you feel bad. If they say something about you and they are wrong, then it's about them and not you, so you have the option to let them own it and not take it on yourself. If they say something about you and they're right, then they didn't make you feel bad…your own behavior did.

    When the problem is with a family member or loved one, it is harder to keep that boundary and look at the situation so dispassionately. As a result, feelings will probably be hurt, at least to some degree. But it's still within your power to move through your hurt feelings by listening to that person's grievance, prayerfully considering whether you have done anything wrong, and then either owning it or not taking it on at all, as inspiration prompts you.

    I think that some people subconsciously look for opportunities to take offense. They are accustomed to assuming the victim role, and it feels natural to do so. I saw this when I worked as a therapist, and I was distressed to see how much personal power to control their own sense of well-being certain clients gave up on an almost daily basis. Often these women had low self esteem or identity issues that carried over from childhood, and it was extremely difficult for them to make the cognitive behavioral changes necessary to overcome their pattern of feeling ill-used, even victimized, in situations that simply did not merit that response. However, I did see success stories.

    Here's the thing. The sole earthly, non-ecclesiastical judge we should allow into our psyches is ourselves, and we need to be objective, firm, fair, and very gentle in that role. As we gain confidence in our own judgment, we become far less vulnerable to taking offense over the critical opinions/actions of others. When we are in the wrong, we will happily make adjustments. When we are not, we will just shrug our shoulders and hope our hypercritical acquaintances are feeling better about life tomorrow.

    Just my thoughts…

  34. After my parents' divorce my mother stopped going to church, mostly because she felt so awkward in church. Part of me gets really angry at the people in her ward, because I'm pretty sure if just one or two sisters would reach out to her and make her feel welcome she would start going to church again. In the meantime, though, my mother is slipping further and further away from the gospel, and seems to be taking my younger sister (who still lives at home) along with her.

    Yet, I realize that ultimately it is my mother's responsibility to see to her own salvation, and although she likes to say that she would go if someone would just make an effort to invite her, really she is the one who is ultimately at fault. There have been a couple times in my life where going to church was really hard because I felt completely unwanted and pushed away by the people in my ward, yet I continued to go because I knew that it was a commandment, even when it was a rather miserable experience. I do think the people in her ward will be held accountable for pushing away my mother, but I also think the bulk of the responsibility for her falling away lies with my mother.

    Right now I'm lucky to live in one of the most tightly knit, friendly wards I've ever lived in, and it's great! Yet I still remember what it was like to go to church and have people treat you like you shouldn't be there, so I try to do what I can to make everyone feel welcome. Just one friend can make such a huge difference!

  35. We had an completely inactive older family live down the street. My husband had never met him (or maybe met him once?), and talked to the wife once or twice on the street. The husband got cancer. Apparently, ward members (including the bishop) told them my husband cancer history and told them that they were lucky that my husband lived close so he could be a help to them. No one told my husband he was supposed to do anything, plus he really hates thinking about chemo and in his mind he wouldn't have appreciated strangers visiting him when he was so miserable.
    Well, a few months after her husband died, the lady down the street put a note on our front door addressed to my husband. She was so vicious and angry at him.
    I could only tell him that she was obviously in pain and still dealing with her husband's death. I pointed out to my husband that they were in our ward when we lived a few blocks away and he had cancer and they hadn't rushed to our aide. I think some ward members who knew them tried to be supportive to them.
    I sent her a card after that. I felt bad that I had never mailed the original sympathy card I had written right after her husband's death. I found it a year later. I figured that maybe someday she would realize that her letter was written in grief and I thought a card from me with some kind words might help her feel better.
    Anyway, so many stories have two sides. This one was easy for me to see her side and explain to my husband. Could she see my husband's side? Maybe someday. But maybe she never will because she didn't really know him.
    Katie's story just made me think of this situation. Her mom has a ward that isn't reaching out to her. Unfortunately, her mom's ward is full of people who have their own problems too and Katie's mom isn't there helping them. (Sorry, no offense to your mom, Katie). I don't know if that is something that you could actually use to help her go back to church. Perhaps if she knew that someone in the ward needed her friendship or needed her support. It is good to be needed. But if you don't go to church and become a part of a ward, you just aren't going to be around to help. My friend's mom who doesn't go to church actually likes the deacons to come around asking for fast offerings. She remembers the help she got from the church and wants to contribute if someone comes to ask, although she wouldn't go to the effort and mail it in.

  36. We had an completely inactive older family live down the street. My husband had never met him (or maybe met him once?), and talked to the wife once or twice on the street. The husband got cancer. Apparently, ward members (including the bishop) told them my husband cancer history and told them that they were lucky that my husband lived close so he could be a help to them. No one told my husband he was supposed to do anything, plus he really hates thinking about chemo and in his mind he wouldn't have appreciated strangers visiting him when he was so miserable.
    Well, a few months after her husband died, the lady down the street put a note on our front door addressed to my husband. She was so vicious and angry at him.
    I could only tell him that she was obviously in pain and still dealing with her husband's death. I pointed out to my husband that they were in our ward when we lived a few blocks away and he had cancer and they hadn't rushed to our aide. I think some ward members who knew them tried to be supportive to them.
    I sent her a card after that. I felt bad that I had never mailed the original sympathy card I had written right after her husband's death. I found it a year later. I figured that maybe someday she would realize that her letter was written in grief and I thought a card from me with some kind words might help her feel better.
    Anyway, so many stories have two sides. This one was easy for me to see her side and explain to my husband. Could she see my husband's side? Maybe someday. But maybe she never will because she didn't really know him.
    Katie's story just made me think of this situation. Her mom has a ward that isn't reaching out to her. Unfortunately, her mom's ward is full of people who have their own problems too and Katie's mom isn't there helping them. (Sorry, no offense to your mom, Katie). I don't know if that is something that you could actually use to help her go back to church. Perhaps if she knew that someone in the ward needed her friendship or needed her support. It is good to be needed. But if you don't go to church and become a part of a ward, you just aren't going to be around to help. My friend's mom who doesn't go to church actually likes the deacons to come around asking for fast offerings. She remembers the help she got from the church and wants to contribute if someone comes to ask, although she wouldn't go to the effort and mail it in.

  37. I wonder what would happen if when people say/do something offensive if we called them on it? For example, say someone says "you'd be healthier if you lost the weight." If I were offended by this, how would they react if I said "you know, that really hurts my feelings," or "i'm quite offended you think I'm fat." Would I get an apology? Would they get embarrassed for being insensitive? I might try that next time just to see what happens.

  38. Sue (#37), thank you for your thoughts. Not only do I wholeheartedly agree with you, but you have given me some important insights. I have to admit that I've often felt impatient with people who are easily offended, but your comments help me understand where they might be coming from and why that might be the case. The question now, I guess, is, if there are people in our lives who are quick to take offense, what can we do to help them break free of that victim mentality?

  39. In response to #41, I've found that in certain types of situations the best way for me to avoid being offended has been to take control through kindly, but assertively, taking task with the offensive comment or action. There are some things that you can–and should–just let go by the wayside. But sometimes something needs to be said. When I was childless and going through long-term infertility, I sometimes was the recipient of the most offensive and insensitive comments. It took me years to learn to directly address those comments. I didn't argue with or get upset at the person. I just kindly and matter-of-factly corrected them. To the sister who told me that maybe the reason I didn't yet have a child was because God didn't think I could handle it, I said gently but firmly that God usually tests us by giving us trials we think we can't handle, not by refusing to let us experience challenges. To the people who go on and on about how easy adoption is and how lucky I am to not have to be pregnant, I nicely but firmly tell that that there is no easy way to get a baby. These sound like simple things, but they have helped me take control! No longer am I a victim of other people's comments, yet I don't get mad or contend with people either. This is much better than saying nothing but then stewing or being hurt for weeks afterward.

  40. I too tried to teach my children that no one can make them feel anything. Now that they are grown on occasion they have to remind me of that when I say "She made me feel—-?" With all my heart I believe we control what we feel but boy it is so hard sometimes to remember that.

  41. This was one of the hardest Christmas breaks I've ever had. I watched my cute teen cry and cry over not being included, being left out, being forgotten…whatever could go wrong with her and her friends, seemed to. We talked alot about feelings and how she could learn to be strong, and deal with it. I also talked alot about the Golden Rule, trying to make sure she understood that just because someone was acting mean to her, she shouldn't act the same. And then it happened. I realized one night as she left to go with some friends she was purposely leaving someone out. I was furious. And to make matters worse, it was one of my friends kids. Since that we have had many long talks about behavior. I still don't know all the answers, I wish I did. I guess we all have to plod along on this big ball called Earth and try to figure things out.

  42. anonn,

    There is a very good y-tube demo at bullies2buddies.com that gives some really good ideas about dealing with exclusion. I would urge you to watch it and show it to your daughter.

  43. I remember being terribly hurt by something someone did to my husband and me, and as I was pondering and praying about it, the answer came to me as I was picking some strawberries from our garden: "take her some of these beautiful berries". Maybe it seems silly, but I followed the prompting, and immediately felt better about the person and the situation.

  44. I used to tell people that I wasn't easily offended, but then about a month ago as I was thinking about it, I realized that, at least sometimes, I AM easily offended; I've just taught myself to get over it fast. My family has traditions both of holding grudges (I have a story from my Grandma which will soon be 100 years old…) and of letting abusive or close-to-abusive behavior slide, so I'm kind of dealing with both sides of this– both acknowledging that hurtful things are hurtful, and then either confronting the problem or letting it go (depending on the severity). It's an ongoing learning process for me. Sometimes talking it out with someone else really does help tons– validation makes a huge difference, for me, and after that I can often let it go or take the problem to the proper authority (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive options).

    An event happened when I was thirteen which was so hurtful that it changed the course of my life. By then I had already decided not to hold grudges, which was definitely helpful; it meant that my steely determination to prove Certain Parties wrong was channeled in to a determination to learn the scriptures really well. I now have stronger scripture study habits than almost anyone I know; and because I studied the scriptures, I came to know the Savior, His character, and in particular His love for me and knowledge of me. I learned for myself that nobody can stand between me and God, if I don't let them; and that knowledge is very, very precious. It was not, I have to say, painless or cheap to gain this knowledge, but it has been more than worth every bit of trouble.

    I am currently actively working on not letting offense stand between me and loving other mortals. I know that this is possible because I have, in times past, been immune to possible offense from certain groups of people (such as students in a class I was teaching, or a small child I loved). I love Conference talks on forgiveness and posts like these, because they renew my determination to pursue this goal.

    (Also, since some here were interested in not-giving-offense Conference talks, I felt that Elder Renlund's talk about keeping a soft heart was excellent. He sort of focused on the kind of soft heart that listens to the Lord, but I think that his counsel is equally applicable to keeping soft hearts towards one another.)

  45. I've had a blog post forming in my head about that, Latter-day Guy. Fun to see someone thinking alike… fun for me, anyway, you can take it however you want 😉


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