“To all those who want grace for themselves but struggle to extend it to others.
Wait: that’s everybody!” (Hansen, Unoffendable, pg. v)
We live in a world where everyone seems to be easily offended. Words that at one time were commonplace are now offensive. And they change daily. Some words are okay if they are used within a sub-group, but not okay if someone outside of the group uses them. It has become quite a challenge to walk in a world that finds offense with you before even allowing you to live out who you are in front of them!
We don’t seem to take the time to get to know each other anymore. Judgments and assumptions are made based on the little bits we may have heard rather than taking the time and making the effort to really find out what others are thinking and feeling. We long for other people to extend that courtesy to us, yet we don’t want to extend it to them when our turn comes around. At times it seems that we have developed the mentality that everyone is an idiot except me!
In his book, Unoffendable. How just one change can make all of life better, Brandt Hansen challenges each of us to take the high road by choosing instead to be “unoffendable.” Dictionaries define offense as being angry or resentful. It is normal for us as humans to get angry. The challenge is getting rid of the anger in a positive way. Within the pages of this book lie many wonderful, humorous stories illustrating his position of how we use our “right” to be offended. He discusses how to move away from that position to a place of realizing that each person is worthy of grace and forgiveness. And just as we have been graciously forgiven, we are admonished to forgive.
“Anger is extraordinarily easy – it’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle.” (Ibid, pg. 7) Deciding to not be offended isn’t about simply ignoring the wrongs done to us. We can choose instead to respond in a way that is not full of contempt, anger and bitterness. Anger in the biblical sense is always associated with foolishness, not wisdom. And our greatest desire should be to become wise in our relationships. We do well to make the decision to not be so easily offended. That becomes an exhausting business! Letting go of the anger and offense will actually increase your energy to engage productively.
This book extends a challenge to look at how we relate to one another. It provides encouragement to become more focused on loving people where they are and for who they are. Choosing to become less offendable frees us to love people in risky but profound ways. It can be very tiring to work through issues within relationships, but it is equally as tiring to be continually moving on dragging the backpack of pain with us.
At some point, we will have to deal with our issues. Why not do it before they become so heavy? Making a choice to be grateful for the differences we have rather than offended by those differences allows us to become free from those heavy burdens. Although we might try to avoid interaction with anything or anyone who might challenge or upset us, that just isn’t possible and certainly is not the way God would want us to live in this world.
Developing a gratitude for our differences allows us to leave the anger behind us. “Because that’s the thing about Gratitude and anger: they can’t coexist. It’s one or the other. One drains the very life from you. The other fills your life with wonder. Choose wisely.” (Ibid, pg. 43)
Family & Friends Coordinator
In 2005, Jill and her husband Steve began attending WGA’s support group when one of their adult children disclosed their same-sex relationship. They began participating in the Friends and Family group and over time joined the leadership team. Steve and Jill have been married for 38 years; have 4 adult children, and 8 grandchildren.
Jill joined the leadership team in 2007 and started serving as a volunteer staff for the Friends and Family group in 2010. In 2010, she started organizing the semi-annual gathering of Friends and Family activities and other activities such as the 25-year WGA anniversary celebration.
Jill has a BS in Home Economics Education from CSU. She was a licensed teacher for many years. Jill enjoys planning and organizing events, meeting with individuals, and providing hospitality. In 2013, she joined the staff to coordinate the Friends and Family ministry. She is active in leading small groups, discipleship counseling and coordinating the monthly newcomer breakfast.
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