In the past year, I’ve been told several times that I need to watch what I say. My opinions are strong — I have no problem admitting that. And sometimes, I get so passionate about what I believe that I come across as though I’m condemning those who don’t believe the same thing.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
But it doesn’t really matter what I say. What matters most is how you interpret it, or what you think I said. I can throw a disclaimer at the top of every blog post urging you not to take offense at what I’ve written, but that’s likely not going to stop you from taking offense if you choose to do so.
I heard these four words about two years ago, and they stuck in my mind like gum sticks to your shoe: “offense is a choice.”
I couldn’t agree more.
If you get offended by something I’ve said, it’s because you’ve chosen to take offense.
It’s a hard thing to hear, I know. I know because I’ve taken offense at things people have said more times than I can count. And usually, it’s because of assumptions I’ve made in my head about why they must have said those things.
You know what they say about people who ass-u-me…
Here’s an example:
Recently a friend posted an article on Facebook about how measles is rampant in the United States again. The article claimed the recent outbreaks are the fault of people who choose not to vaccinate their children. All she did was share it. She didn’t tag me. She didn’t post it on my wall. She shared it, and it happened to show up in my news feed. I immediately took offense. I assumed it was posted for me, because surely I must be the only person on Facebook who doesn’t vaccinate, right? What’s more, another friend of hers commented on the article saying he didn’t realize there were people so selfish as to choose not to vaccinate their children.
I retaliated in the most passive-aggressive way I knew how. I shared an opposing article a few days later with this as my comment:
“Some people think those who choose not to vaccinate their children are selfish. Maybe it’s not that we’re selfish. Maybe it’s that we’re educated on the true meaning of health and trusting enough in God’s perfect design that we don’t feel the need to ‘help him out’ by injecting our bodies with toxins in the name of ‘protection.'”
Pretty sad, huh? Pretty sad that it came to all that, because I assumed she meant to offend me, when all she probably meant to do was share information that she had found useful and relevant in her own life.
Reality check: the world does not revolve around me.
It goes the other way too. Just yesterday I was given a brief lecture on how I need to be careful not to offend people with what I write in my blog. When I talk about why I choose not to vaccinate, or why I chose a home birth, it sounds like I’m condemning people who choose to vaccinate or birth in a hospital. When I say I made those choices because I’d rather put my faith In God than in man, it sounds like I’m implying they don’t believe in God.
You chose to vaccinate your kids. You chose to birth in a hospital. So, I must be talking to you, right?
Reality check: the world does not revolve around you, either.
When I make big life choices like how to give birth or whether to vaccinate, I talk to God about them first. My decisions are based on my relationship with him and the conversations we have. If he affirms my decisions not to vaccinate and to give birth at home, that doesn’t mean he condemns you for choosing the opposite. Your decisions should be based on your relationship with him and the conversations you have. They are not my business unless you choose to make them my business, and I’m in no place to judge or condemn you for the choices you make — regardless of whether I talk about my own choices in public or not.
If I offended you, it’s because you made an assumption about what I said as it relates to you. You took it personally. You took offense.
Offense is a choice.
As a writer, my goal is to educate, inspire and uplift. However, as I said before, my opinions are strong. I’m not going to censor myself on my own website just so I don’t offend people. You can choose to read my blog or ignore it. You can choose to agree with me or disagree. I know I’m not going to inspire everyone who lands on my site, but I will inspire some. Someone, somewhere, will read this and connect with it.
In the meantime, I’ll take the negative with the positive and keep sharing my heart.
If you were offended by this post (or not), feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below.