“I hope this doesn’t offend you, but . . .” Whenever I hear phrases like this, I can almost guarantee you what will follow will be unkind, hurtful, and rude to the point of offensive.
It’s pretty much an apology in advance meant, we hope, to excuse us for daring to speak our minds. Sharing an honest opinion isn’t wrong in and of itself, but apologizing for it while taking a tone and posture that dares the person to get offended is problematic to say the least. So is speaking without any regard for the other person and how they might be benefited or hurt, but simply out to demand/defend our right to think for ourselves and have our own opinion.
I am sympathetic to those of you who struggle with this, believe me. I’ve done this plenty myself.
In fact, I’ve often left off the apology in advance and just stated my views in an unconscious dare to loved ones to get offended at me for having a mind of my own. See, as a kid, it seemed like a simple difference of opinions could lead to me being punished, ultimately, for not going along with the dominant position/view in the family. If my perception was at all accurate, it seems my kin were all raised to value group think and feel threatened by individual thought.
While I am grateful for everyone in my life today for whom this isn’t true, I see too much of this kind of thing in our society, especially in relation to politics and religion.
Don’t get me wrong. Truth is absolute. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father but by him. God never changes and neither does the Truth. There is a right and a wrong.
The thing is, we’re not God. He is the holy, unfailing definer of Truth, of what is right and wrong. We are not. We are all imperfect human beings and flawed seekers of Truth if we are following Christ. We can seek to be secure in the revealed truth of God’s word and to be confident in who Christ is. If we grow in these qualities enough, we can stand firm on this solid foundation in how we conduct our own lives and also allow others to be wrong, to allow sinners to be sinners and not be threatened by it.
We can learn to listen respectfully and to compassionately ask, “Why? What’s your story?” If we are secure enough in what we believe to do that, and listen to their testimony respectfully, we will have a stronger case when we politely ask them to respectfully listen to our testimony. I am not sure I know what we can do to change ourselves, but I know who can change us if we ask with a sincere desire to grow. Let’s stop making excuses to offend unnecessarily and ask God to teach us to give the respectful listening we want to receive.
[tweetthis]God, teach us to give the respectful listening we want to receive, lest we offend unnecessarily.[/tweetthis]