It's the Easter season and it's a wonderful time to reflect on the Savior and the Atonement.
It's peaceful and awe-inspriring to consider all the Atonement has to offer us.
But today, I'm thinking about myself and my own role in partaking in the Atonement.
Are we (you and I) easily offended?
Do we find it "easy" to forgive because we are surrounded by imperfect people and we have had soooooo many opportunities to practice forgiveness?
I just read an article about a lady who was new in her ward.
While sitting in the congregation, the speaker offended her.
Since she was new, I'm not sure what he could have possibly said to specifically offend her.
She said that he "hurt her feelings."
Now, she didn't say if the speaker said something general like -"People who don't read their scriptures everyday are going to hell." (and she fell into the category of non scripture readers.)
Or something specific, like- "I really don't like how Sister Jones teaches the sunday school class." (and she was Sister Jones.)
But she was offended.
This has happened to ALL of us.
People are sometimes careless with words.
At least I am.
People sometimes generalize by saying, "I hate chocolate cake." forgetting that you brought chocolate cake to the church potluck three weeks ago.
So yes, maybe people should be more careful not to offend.
But we should be more careful not to be offended.
Do I really think that the person remembers that I brought the chocolate cake three weeks ago and that this is a backhanded attempt to put me in my place?
On a sensitive day..........maybe.
But really? No.
Most people really aren't mean..........at least I don't think so.
So this poor woman, who took offense at church, disliked this man and harbored hurt for SEVERAL years.
The man went on with his life.
He never gave what he had said a second thought.
He had NO idea that he offended someone.
The sister went on to explain that she avoided the man AND his wife.
Only after he unknowingly (just as he had unknowingly offended her) helped her,
did she realize she needed to forgive him.
He was the same man.........for all those years.
She was hurt and offended.........for all those years.
What can we do to avoid wasting years being hurt?
1. Don't take everything personally. Believe it or not, they probably AREN'T talking about you.
2. Realize people are oblivious sometimes. We all say insensitive things without thinking.
3. Try to be a little bit more sensitive about what we say and do ourselves - realizing that people might be like us and take what we say the wrong way.
4. Be more forgiving. Try to see from their perspective. Sometimes people pass you in the store, in the neighborhood or in the hall and don't say "hi" not because they don't like you, but because they really didn't see you, they are focused on "a mission," they have a lot on their own mind, they are caught up in some of their own issues. Try to give the benefit of the doubt.
5. If someone does hurt or offend you, take responsibility for your feelings. Don't stew. Approach the person and in a non-defensive way, try to clarify what they said/did. Explain that you took it personally and allow them the opportunity to explain their perspective.
6. Let go. And now we are back to the Atonement. Letting go is sometimes the hardest part. It's sometimes easier for our head to let go than our heart. If we truly believe and understand all the Savior did for us, we know that we can lay our burden at His feet and move on. When it doesn't come naturally and when we have a hard time, we can ask the Lord to take that burden, to erase hurts, to allow us to move on. When we hold on to the hurts and to the offenses, we are the only one who really suffers. We waste precious time and possible friendships.
7. Try to be a friend. Perhaps the hardest part is to "love our enemies" - even our imagined enemies or enemies of our own making. It's not easy, but something worth striving for.
And so now, if you are offended, I apologize. If you feel I have written this with you in mind, I apologize. I have no actual people in mind besides myself. I wrote it for me.........as a lesson of how I should try to live, because life is not really that easy. And I need constant reminders!