Everywhere you turn, someone is getting offended about something, and I think it’s because we are a big bunch whiners. If I offend some people with this post, it’ll probably get more attention for the blog than my other, far more uplifting posts…I think people like being offended. It gives them something to clamor on about.
I feel like I can speak about this issue with some level of authority, because I am a person who gets my feelings hurt easily, and therefore I get offended easily. I’m sensitive to the core. I own that fact, and I have enough self-awareness to realize that the reason I get upset most of the time is that I’m insecure about my position.
The more I watch people on the internet and in real life, the more I believe that most people get offended when they feel like their lifestyle or worldview is threatened, and they feel the need to defend where they stand. For instance, if I were to get on Facebook and say I believe it’s best for children to be breastfed until age two or more, there would be a storm of people saying that my statement of belief is offensive to mothers who can’t breastfeed, those who don’t want to breastfeed, and those who breastfeed but wean their babies earlier in life. Say what?! Who gives a hoot what I say? The only people affected by my belief about breastfeeding are my own babies! The truth is, I DO believe that it’s best for babies to be breastfed until age two or beyond, but I weaned Josiah at 18 and a half months, because he was losing interest, and at the time, our family was going through a really, really tough time. I was sad that we didn’t make it to two years, and I wished that he’d been able to receive the antibodies from breastmilk longer, but it didn’t work out that way, and I’m fine with that. If someone else were to say mothers should breastfeed until age two, I’m secure enough to say that maybe I should have but I didn’t. I wouldn’t be offended, and I wouldn’t feel the need to defend myself. I’m secure in my position.
On the other hand, being a working mother, I have felt offended when other women have made comments about how mothers should stay home with their children. I’m not offended because they said or did anything wrong. I get upset because I am insecure about being a working mother. I feel the need to defend my choice, because I don’t always feel like I’m doing the best for my child. God knows my situation, and so do the people closest to me. I chose to go to work when Dustin and I were separated, rather than letting my family fall apart from financial distress. I know I did the right thing, even though it was the hard thing, but I still hate every minute away from Josiah. When I get offended, it’s because I wish people knew that I don’t want to be away from him, but I figured it was better for him to have his Daddy in his life than to have separated or divorced parents, and live with a stressed out mom on welfare (I think I may have just offended someone with my choice not to go on welfare. “Gasp, she must look down on people on welfare because she didn’t think it was best for her family!” I can just hear it now). Anyway, my point is, the other person’s opinion or worldview isn’t the problem, and I need not concern myself with it. You see, I believe I should be home with Josiah, but that isn’t our reality, so it hurts when I’m reminded. My problem is with my own insecurity. If I thought being a working mom was best, I wouldn’t care about those comments.
I think we can see this constant tension in the “Mommy Wars.” What this should be called is “Women Getting Bent Out of Shape Because They Are Insecure and Have to Put Others Down to Feel Better About Themselves”, but that’s not nearly as catchy. I have officially been on both sides of the “Mommy Wars” battlefield, and I think it’s a waste of emotional energy for all involved. If you feel secure in your life choices, no one else’s opinion should matter. Why do we feel the need to defend either side? Stay-at-home-moms want the world to know that they DO hard work. Working moms feel slighted because they believe THEY do the hard work. WHATEVER. Why do we value our motherhood based on how HARD we work? That’s a very MARTHA attitude in an area where Jesus wants us to have a MARY heart. Our hearts and love for our children should be how we value our motherhood, but we feel the need to defend ourselves to outsiders who JUST DON’T GET IT.
This issue of being always offended and defensive applies in matters of religion and politics, as well. I wish it were more like France here. I mean, at least the France I learned about in high school. Apparently, matters of religion, work, and politics are (or used to be) considered taboo to discuss interpersonally. People choose and vote how they will, and they don’t expect each other to talk about it. You actually have a right to your opinion. Not so in the good old U.S.A. No, there is this mentality that if you don’t agree with me, I am going to badger you until you back down or change your mind. GOOD GRIEF. If you have to make other people agree with your stance, are you really confident in your position? I see it all the time in the media, especially social media. A person posts a belief about a modern issue, and it starts a fire storm. Why this need to attack other people because they don’t agree with you?
There is a man on Facebook that is friends with several people I know. We shall call him John. I would tell him everything I’m about to say, so don’t feel like I’m talking “behind his back.” John has a vendetta against Christianity. His worldview seems humanistic to me, and he is very passionate about his stance against organized Christianity. I hurt for him because he doesn’t realize what he is missing. He began attacking my friend’s Facebook status one day, and I jumped in, something I almost NEVER do. I came to my friend’s defense, as I thought he was attacking her personally (which is entirely uncalled for), but I also had a conviction that being in an open conversation with John might just plant a seed of interest about Jesus deep inside him. Now, anyone who knows him, knows that John is extremely intelligent and can “rip you up one side and down the other,” and he can lay down some pretty serious smack on your worldview. It’s very easy to become offended when you encounter John, and A LOT of people do. I usually tell them it isn’t worth getting flustered over, but the more I spoke to him, the more I had to check myself, as I felt all the defensiveness rising within me. So many times I had to step back from what I was typing and ask myself why I was feeling upset. Was it because he is rude? Was it because his arguments sounded smarter than mine? Did he make me feel stupid? Was I afraid he might have a point worth looking at? Maybe I was wrong? Is He effectively mocking my religion?
Being offended is a complicated emotion, and I see people attacking one another personally because they don’t recognize where the anger is coming from…within themselves. They feel threatened, so they attack. Anger is frequently a mask for fear. It would have been so easy for me to launch an attack of hatred on John that day because I felt offended. His crime, besides being arrogant, was disagreeing with my beliefs. Therefore, attacking him would truly be my problem, and I would have lost all credibility for the cause of sharing Christ with him.
I see this type of behavior in all different people groups; all races and creeds. People who profess tolerance become very hateful when things don’t end up the way they see fit or when someone disagrees with their point of view. I’m thinking, “Tolerance…I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” I also see Christians, who claim Jesus/God/Love, replying with hateful spirits when non-Christians put our brotherhood down. Jesus said we would be hated by the world, but many Christians still seem somehow shocked by this truth, so they react defensively and forget to speak truth in love.
The beauty of “freedom of speech” from our country and free-will from God is that we really do have a choice in what we believe. We have become a generation who wants to strip that away from one another. We are so thin-skinned. We can’t handle when someone disagrees with us, and I really believe that is a problem. Hatred is growing out of our weak resolve.
I have no issue with standing up for what you believe in, nor with trying to create social change to protect the innocent, but firing back at a person on Facebook or in a coffee shop or in your living room in a very personal way is a reflection of your own confidence. For instance, if I were to come in contact with a girl who was contemplating an abortion, and I had the opportunity to talk with her, I would tell her I don’t believe what she is doing is right or good for her. I would tell her that God has a much better plan available to her through the help of other people and that HE can provide a better way out than she could ever ask or imagine. This gets the point across with truth in LOVE, rather than saying something to the effect of “Don’t murder your baby, you dirty skank.” If you cannot convince someone of what you believe without scare tactics and overbearing, hateful language, then maybe you need to check yourself, find out what you really believe and why, and then make your case. An idea presented with confidence is far more convincing.
If you are feeling offended, step away from the keyboard or the conversation and wrestle with your emotions. Take responsibility for how you feel and what you believe before you place blame on another person. If you are confident in what you believe, you can stand alone and take no offense when others disagree. Then we could have open conversations that challenge each of us to grow in understanding and wisdom, rather than fear and hatred. In so doing, we might have more energy and time to spend fighting the things of this world that are truly offensive, such as childhood hunger, human trafficking, and innocent lives ended by evil hands…