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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.”