Thursday, March 31, 2016

Taking Offense When None is Intended

Is it me, or does it seem lately like people are more easily offended . . . usually over silly things that don't really matter? Like the day I drove one of those riding carts some stores furnish for people that have a hard time getting around. My mother wasn't feeling well that day, and sometimes riding a cart like that makes it possible for her to shop. She has rheumatoid arthritis and knees that have seen better days. Those riding carts have been a life-saver for her, and we appreciate the stores that furnish such items. There wasn't one on the side of the store we entered on the day in question, so I helped her to a bench at the front of the store and ran down to the other end to see if I could find a riding cart there. I found one, and then proceeded to drive it down to where my mother waited. Wow did I get dirty looks from a woman who had seen me run down to that end to retrieve the riding cart. She was mortally offended--the look on her face spoke volumes. She made sure I saw the unpleasant look on her face before she huffed out of the store. In an instant she had made herself the judge and jury over a case she didn't even understand. To her, the judgement was sound and fair. It didn't matter that she had missed the entire reason for my erratic behavior. Nor had she witnessed the countless times I have purposely parked clear out in the north 40 to make sure those with physical challenges have a closer place to park near a store. None of that mattered. She had seen all she needed to see before passing judgement. I'm sure she shared with anyone who would listen how terrible I was to use a riding cart when I obviously didn't need one.

I'm sure we've all been there--condemned by those who don't have all of the facts. People witness something with tunnel vision, and then make it worse by jumping to conclusions. I've been on both sides of this type of drama. We're all human, and we all make mistakes. We see a portion of what is really taking place, and then choose to be offended by what we perceive to be a slight directed toward us, when in reality, it had nothing to do with us at all.

I'll conclude this post by sharing some thoughts on this matter. Hopefully when we are tempted to jump to conclusions, maybe we'll pause a moment to consider that we may not always know the whole story. Think about what is most important, and give those around us the benefit of the doubt:

“Time is the justice that examines all offenders.” William Shakespeare

 “I'll not willingly offend, Nor be easily offended; What's amiss I'll strive to mend, And endure what can't be mended.” Isaac Watts

“An offended heart is the breeding ground of deception.”  John Bevere

“To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”  David A. Bednar

"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool." Brigham Young
Read more at:
Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you're doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you. Joel Osteen
Read more at:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ice Happens

I apologize for not posting anything lately. Life has been acting like the ice on a local lake, and has piled up, with one adventure after another. That seems to be a current theme for many of us in 2016. We just think things will settle down, and wham, along comes another character building moment. ;) I'm beginning to think that's part of why we're here--part of our earthly education. You just think you're getting everything figured out, and life happens. It can be a health dilemma, death of a loved one, or a myriad of trials that affect the people we love. Sometimes financial setbacks take the reins, or little things, like dropping a metal container of heavy dominoes on one's foot. (Yep, I'm still dealing with that last item. Not my idea of a fun time, and about the 6th broken toe I've endured through the years.)

Suddenly we find ourselves floundering in a sea of turmoil and pain as wave after wave of physical or emotional challenges threaten to sink our boat. That's when we long for the safety and comfort of the shore. We can often see it in the distance--a safe harbor where life starts making sense again, but while we're doing our best not to drown, we sometimes struggle with making it to a refuge of protection and peace.

In recent weeks, we've dealt with a son who had to endure a painful surgery, an aging parent, who despite getting the flu shot, caught a version of the flu anyway,  interesting weather fluctuations and corresponding arthritis flares, one disaster after another in our local ward and community, as well as challenges in our extended family.

There were good things, too, like several births of cute babies, a niece's mission call, as well as the mission call for one of the YW I used to serve during my last tour of duty as a YW leader. Last night we learned where a favorite aunt and uncle will be serving their mission. All wonderful news moments! And we were able to go through the temple with both of those young ladies mentioned above. Awesome experiences.

My calling in the R.S. keeps me hopping, but often in a good way. So on and so forth. In short, currently we're not meant to be bored. I suspect it's part of the joy of our current time. ;)

So how do we find our way to the shore when we suddenly find ourselves blown out to the middle of a turbulent trial? I'll admit, it's not easy. I've sometimes felt like I will always be stuck out where the water is too deep and the wind is extremely nasty. Then little things happen that help me find my way. Items like prayer, scriptures that provide comfort and guidance, upbeat or positive thoughts, a hug from a loving friend, a song that contains a soothing message, and sometimes just a realization that one day, all of this will make sense. One of my favorite poems talks about the shaping of a tapestry, and how at first it seems like a jumbled mess of color. Then gradually a beautiful picture emerges and you see that all of the colors were required to create a completed masterpiece.

Despite how it feels at the time, there is a reason for the good and bad items that happen in our lives. One of the most difficult things we will ever do is to place our trust in our Savior. As the saying goes, "when we get all wrinkled up with worry and care, it's time to get our faith lifted." I often reflect on Peter, and the great faith he possessed as he began to walk out on the water to reach the Savior. True, he had his moment of doubt and discouragement, but our Savior was right there to catch him before he drowned. The same is true for all of us. Since Jesus suffered more than any of us can possibly comprehend, and willingly endured what all of us would experience, (see Alma 7:11-12) we need to remember to trust in Him, and to allow Him to shoulder our burdens.

I've had to do that a couple of times in my life. There have been dark nights when I thought I would never sleep again, or feel comforting peace. When I finally ceased ranting, raving, and being obnoxiously angry, that peace has come. But I have to be humble enough for it to enter my heart.

There is a famous picture of the Savior standing outside of a door, knocking. The only available doorknob exists inside. It is symbolic of the fact that He is always there to help us, but it is up to us to let Him into our lives.

So on those days when you are feeling tempest tossed (as the popular hymn advises) remember to count the blessings in your life and know that God is indeed over all. Things will eventually settle into place, and safe harbors do exist. We merely have to steer toward them and trust in the One who understands us more than we understand ourselves.