He sat in the treatment room with a blank stare like he didn’t want to be there. I asked him question after question, but he barely gave me a response and refused to make eye contact. It was time for balance testing, but he didn’t want to try — “I am not doing that!” I wonder if he was able to sense my frustration, because after a while he said, “Don’t be offended — it’s not you!”
As he sat slouched staring at the wall, I responded gently but firmly, “I am not offended. I have been a physical therapist for over eleven years. You are not the first person that wasn’t happy to see me, and I don’t take that personally. I can’t imagine what it is like for you to live with your diagnosis, but I want to help you. And these tests show me where you need help.”
In that moment, something shifted within him. His whole demeanor changed. For the remainder of our session, he participated and even made jokes. He attended his therapy appointments every week, and we had great conversations.
All it took was that moment when I made the choice not to be offended. His attitude toward me that first day was offensive, and I was truly getting frustrated. I could have easily given him poor care, labeling him as a non-compliant or unmotivated patient, but in that moment I chose to see the person in front of me rather than what I felt or assumed about him. Here was a man that was just ten years older than me whose life had drastically changed because of a diagnosis. My forty-five minute interaction with him was just part of his story, not his whole story, so I chose to listen and understand rather than be offended.
In today’s world, many of us can be so easily offended and quick to label other people, causing us to distance ourselves from them. It is an epidemic that is killing authentic community among us today. Often the enemy will keep us offended, even with small things, so that we miss out on having genuine love for each other.
In Mark 6, we see Jesus in His hometown teaching at the local synagogue. Many were amazed at His wisdom. But there were some that saw Him as “Mary’s son, a carpenter,” and these folks were offended by Jesus. His own people labeled Him and missed out on seeing that the Messiah was in front of them. Mark goes on to tell us that Jesus could not do any miracles there except to heal a few sick people. Jesus was not limited nor did He lack power. Rather He chose not to work miracles because they chose to be offended. They missed out.
Offense is birthed out of pride and breeds hatred. When we choose to be offended, we close the door to relationships and block the healing we could receive.
There will be plenty of opportunities for offense where our pain will cause us to burn a bridge and put up a wall. Relationships carry the risk of offending us because conflict is inevitable. But when we choose not to be offended, we get the opportunity to be Jesus for those around us. As Christians, we are called to be agents of reconciliation which means we are people marked by grace and love. This is hard to do because people are hard to love. This is why the Bible has to instruct us on how we ought to engage with each other because our natural inclination will be to choose self-preservation. We must be people who choose not to be offended. And the only way we can do that is by remembering the grace and love Jesus demonstrated on the cross.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
1 Peter 2:23-24 (NLT)
People will hurt us, offense will come, but we are called to “live for what is right.” Jesus modeled how to do that for us, and His Holy Spirit empowers us to practice rebellious empathy and mercy just like Him.Leave a Comment