The picture above speaks powerfully to me.
Not offending others is a thwarted goal that is not within our control. We will never please everyone. No matter what we do, how we react or what we say/don’t say, we will offend others. We can have the most honourable of intentions but the reality is that people have different “takes” on a situation and they will surmise what they will with or without our permission.
So, where does that leave us?
My freedom came when I learned to be secure in being misunderstood.
To be silent.
To be held by a trustworthy God who knows me and loves me.
No performance needed. No approval sought.
Just resting. Waiting. Learning to love.
This morning, I read the following from “The Awakened Heart” by Gerald G. May:
In the past, I have wanted to describe my heart in a way that would make others understand, gain their approval and support, elicit their affirmation. But most do not understand. Sometimes, discretion means it is better not to speak because it is about running ahead of grace. When I encountered resistance, I not only tried to justify that which cannot be justified; I tried to convince my challengers to agree with me. By that time, my only interests were success and security. My concern was not love, not immediate presence and openness, but to get my point across. I was speaking about my heart’s desire instead of speaking from it.
I get it. I recognize that I do indeed run ahead of grace. I want to resolve. Talk about it. Fix it. Make peace. These are all noble aspirations but they are also thwarted goals when others see a situation differently than I do.
I will never be fully understood by another person. That’s reality.
I will not intentionally offend another but others will be offended without giving any explanation and without attempts to resolve.
I don’t like it but I am learning to accept it.
Love settles and quiets and prays for and is ready for surprises.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13. 4-8