Stay friends with me long enough and I am sure you will tick me off. You will offend me. If you are reading this, and if you know me personally, you probably have. No one is immune. I probably won't tell you about it..I'll just be angry for way to long about it.
I get offended easily. Most people do but add on a special needs child, and it doesn't take much to offend. It is less so now because I have learned a few lessons on how A Fence.. offence effects me more than the offender.
Awhile back a local church gave a series of message called "A Fence." When someone offends you it puts up a fence between the two of you. But it isn't like the one above. No...it is something more sinister.
When someone offends you it is very very rare that they intended to. Even when they mean to, the steps to your own emotional and spiritual health are the same. You forgive, you ask God to bless them, and you move on. Sometimes you need to do a bit of education and that is fine. But when you let it fester, you are only hurting yourself. You are hurting your relationship with them and by your lack of forgiveness you are increasing the distance between you and God.
Those steps are very hard to do. And you rarely feel them at first. As I write this I have a list of 'wrongs' that people have done to me still in my head. We went to a walk through nativity last year and my son was being so good..for him. But he was noisy, and interrupting and during one part of a sit down presentation, where it was dark and he couldn't hear, an older woman turned around and shushed him with angry eyes. I was recalling that earlier this week. I had to say, dear God..I forgive her. Bless her. And I will probably have to do that again. I obviously still haven't let it go entirely.
I said above that I get offended easily but it is much less so now. As I have learned this process, I find I am able to give people the benefit of the doubt. I did it just this week and it was a BIG offense...something off the charts. But I let it go. I am so proud of me. And so thankful for God's grace in being ever so gentle with me while I learn how to let go.
I have been (often) on the giving end as well. I have talked about autism in terms of 'high or low' functioning. I know that bothers many folks. I honestly mean no offense. It is just my way of processing. I will often describe Andrew by his disabilities. And I am sure I do that regarding others as well. I know that offends but I don't even realize that I do it. I know I need to shift my thinking and words here but it will be a process. I am completely self absorbed when I am out with Andrew- focused on our needs. I probably look cold and off-putting. But I mean no offense. And it is here that I realize that when other's offend me... I am only hurting ME by staying offended because they, most of the time, have NO idea.
One of my best friends gave me some words a few months ago. She said, "Amy. I am sure I have offended you. I am sure I will offend you in the future. I don't know your life. I don't live your life." And she is right. She has..and she will. And I will forgive her, ask God to bless her, and move on.
And a big thank you to another friend who gave me the inspiration for this post. You know who you are...she calls 'em like she see 'em. And gave me this most excellent advice recently. I adore truth in love.