I’m offended…

Some sweet, extended family members went out Friday evening for dinner and a quick errand. Dinner was great, but then, after venturing in and out of Pet Smart, one of them started to back up the truck…

… and he hit her.

“Her” was a young gal in her lower-sitting sedan. 

Daily, no doubt, conflict exists. We run into trouble with people who get in our way, who inconvenience us… hit us… hurt us… even cause damage.

Maybe the damage is minimal — just a fender bender, perhaps — but maybe it’s more… it can feel so harsh! Maybe, in fact, it’s simply their existence that we find so damaging to what we are trying to do or where we are attempting to go.

In so many places and pockets these days, we find persons unwilling to tolerate even the existence of another. How many times have we read a social media thread where someone calls someone else out, simply saying, “STOP!”…

I’m offended! … you and your opinion are not welcome here.

I’m offended! … that is not an angle I will allow to be discussed.

I’m offended! … you are ignorant; no need for civility with you.

The sequence starts with offense.

Observe once more our family members and their accident…

The damage was minor, but damage nonetheless; both parties had cause — justified grounds — for offense. But notice what they chose…

As they awaited for the police to arrive, my family members began to converse with the twenty-something female driver of a car that was “pretty blue and fairly new.”

While engaging in interactive, listening-oriented dialogue, they quickly found common ground. The gal works at my family’s doctor’s office.

The common ground brought trust, and so they spoke more. And more. Even though the setting had all the potential for opposition and offense, they chose otherwise, knowing the issue would be mended faster and better if they could see something good or common in the other.

After all information was exchanged and the police had finished making record of the accident, see the reaction of those involved, before they resumed their evenings as planned:

“… she said she felt like us literally running into each other was a ‘God-thing,’ as she loved having the opportunity to talk with us. She said she felt like God allowed that little accident to happen just so we had that time together.

The policeman even told us both how nice it was to deal with people who weren’t all irate and screaming at each other…”

So often we choose to be offended. We have grounds; our offense is justified. 

But what if we chose otherwise?

Said the family:

“Their comments touched my heart, and it just goes to show you how our words and reactions to a situation can make all the difference in the world. This turned out to be a positive experience rather than a negative one, because of their reactions…

An experience I will never forget… it brought tears to my eyes.”

Choosing not to be offended… finding common ground… listening… still dealing with the issue but in an honoring-of-all kind of way…

What a positive experience.