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The art of not taking offense

From The Christian Science Journal - April 14, 2014

Taking offense is something I’ve had practice doing my whole life. I’d been duped into thinking that this was a problem—or personality trait—that I’d have to live with my whole life. But in the last six months, I’ve had a spiritual awakening.

My wake up call came to me one day when someone I worked for did something I felt was very hurtful, and I felt she did this almost on purpose—as if to say, “Touché Take that!” When I told a friend about my “problem” on the phone—that I couldn’t believe I was being treated this way—all of a sudden I heard myself talking. It was almost as if I were watching a play. I stopped mid-sentence to realize that I was tired of hearing myself talk in this way, and how unproductive it is.

Later, after the phone call, I was going to e-mail this person at work, but realized I was still holding on to resentment. The thought came to reread “Taking Offense” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 223–224). Wow, what an eye opener! I had read this article many times, even in preparation for my association day this past year. But this time it really spoke to me, especially this section: “There is immense wisdom in the old proverb, ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty.’ Hannah More said, ‘If I wished to punish my enemy, I should make him hate somebody.’ To punish ourselves for others’ faults, is superlative folly. The mental arrow shot from another’s bow is practically harmless, unless our own thought barbs it.”

I came to realize how awful it feels to be angry and hateful toward someone—and no matter how much we complain or feel justified, we never really feel better. I refused to waste my time on this “being offended” business. I reached out to God to find forgiveness in my heart for all who I have felt ever offended me. What a huge revelation—a chance to forgive and forget every offensive word I ever heard from anyone. What a burden lifted! And just as important, if I’d ever offended anyone, I prayed to be forgiven, knowing that with this increased understanding of God’s love for each one of us, no one need ever be offended.

I never did send that defensive e-mail to my co-worker, and we never spoke about the incident again. I realize that the “offense” was within my own consciousness. I must admit that the thought to be offended in other situations has come up a few times since, but now I know what it is—a wake-up call to see that it’s my thought that needs healing—not somebody else’s. Mary Baker Eddy said, “Let us be faithful in pointing the way through Christ, as we understand it, but let us also be careful always to ‘judge righteous judgment,’ and never to condemn rashly” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 444).

I know that divine Love, God, always works its purpose out with Her beloved children, and that it’s not my place to lash out, strike back, or teach someone else a lesson (when it is motivated by anger). I was also led to move out from my position, and to another one in the same company. I occasionally talk with this colleague, and it is always pleasant and non-personal.

I am so grateful for this healing. It has helped me to see myself and others in a new light—God’s light.

Sharon Caliguiri lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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