I've seen it happen with alarming frequency, especially on the Internet. But of course it occurs in our more personal interactions as well. When someone states an opinion, or simply gets excited about the direction in which they feel God is leading them, and the next thing you know, someone's feelings are hurt.
Pick a topic, any topic. The hot button issues on birth boards are breastmilk/formula, co-sleeping/crib sleeping, medicated/unmedicated labor, vaginal/surgical childbirth, and so on. The subject of homeschooling gets some people hot under the collar. I even imagine that the statement, "I'm reading Real Food For Mother and Baby, and it's fabulous!" (And I am! What a terrific book.) could be offensive. "Real food? If that's real food, what are you saying about what I'm eating?"
If I say I am tired of carrying the baby weight, someone out there who weighs more than me could feel wounded.
So how do we avoid hurting people's feelings? Or is it even possible to completely avoid it? It would seem that the safest route would be sharing only factual information - but aren't common interests and views a way that we bond with others? Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we only said things like "The sky is blue," as opposed to "I just love that the sky is blue!"
And we do have so much freedom in Christ. There are some things which are non-negotiable, make no mistake. But I believe that in many of the issues involved in parenting, we do have freedom to choose. Whole foods versus processed food? Breast versus bottle? These are not salvation issues.
I do believe that if the Lord calls you to something, and you ignore His voice, it is disobedience. But that's between each individual and God.
17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. - James 4:17So, we have freedom in Christ. Much freedom, praise the Lord! Now the question becomes, how do we use our freedom? Maybe this calls for sensitivity - and empathy.
23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. - 1 Cor. 10:23-24Yet there it is again. We are called to consider others. Maybe we can take a little more time to think before we speak. Maybe imagine the view from the other person's shoes. At the very least, our compassion will grow. And as we lay down our own rights, we become more and more like Jesus.
31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. - 1 Cor. 10:31-33I doubt we can avoid offending everyone, all the time. And at times it seems that people are seeking a reason to take offense. You know the old saying, "You can't please everybody, all the time." It probably is truly an impossible task.
Yet we can do our best. And if we bathe our days in prayer, letting the Spirit guide us, we can strive to be a blessing, instead of a stumbling block. That just may be all that God asks of us.
37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Matthew 22:37-39
To read "Taking Offense: Part 1," click HERE.