Taking up an offense against someone is a human response that results in missing out. But why is it that we become offended in the first place? Perhaps it’s because we believe we have something to defend, or maybe the person with whom we are offended has struck a chord that rings true. Either way, when we are miffed, put off, or otherwise feel we’ve been wronged by another, it just might be a cue that alerts us to investigate what is amiss with us?
Years ago, before my husband, Luke, and I were married, he took me home to officially meet his family. At the time, Luke and I were living together as were most of our friends. It was an accepted protocol of the culture back in the 70s. And though I was in no hurry to marry, Luke’s sights were set on marriage sooner than later. Thus, we’d taken a summer road trip from Idaho to Colorado to see the sights, camp, and to meet his mom.
Berniece had lived as a widow for several years, but had recently married. I knew of Berniece, but had never met her or her new husband officially.
When we arrived close to where they lived, we set up a time to have lunch at their house. On that designated day, I awoke early, waded out into the lake near our tent, and using environmentally safe soap, scrubbed off the smell of campfire and the grit that clings to one’s body while camping. I shook the wrinkles out of a clean flannel shirt, brushed the dirt off my cleanest pair of jeans and braided my hair. I wanted to make the best first impression I possibly could.
We tapped on their front door promptly at noon and Berniece warmly embraced her son. Luke introduced me as his girlfriend and I shook hands with Berniece and Les. We were led into the kitchen where lunch meat, fresh tomatoes and a plate of cookies donned the table. But before filling my plate, I followed suit while everyone bowed their heads. Les began his prayer, but when he got to the part where he asked God to bless Luke and …., he’d forgotten who I was. He paused, looked up and asked, “What did you say your name was?”
“Terese,” I whispered.
Les returned to his prayer and I was left to wonder. What exactly did it mean when someone forgets your name?
After lunch, we sat out in the back yard and visited until near the dinner hour when Berniece suggested that we sup with them and spend the night. Luke and I went out to get our things from our Volkswagen and then Berniece showed me my room. Luke’s bed was in the basement, and my bed was in the guest room. I was dumbfounded. Why would she put us in separate places when she knew we were living together?
It would be a few years before I learned how to love and appreciate Luke’s folks, but first I had to get over feeling offended by them. They stood for the principals I’d grown up with, but had disregarded. They meant me no harm, yet I took their actions personally.
When Les and Berniece came to our wedding Les and I had our first of many heart-to-heart conversations. He told me that we were a lot alike and then gave me the best piece of advice a father-in-law could give his new daughter-in-law. He said that if we weren’t careful, our pride could get in the way and we’d both miss out on a meaningful relationship. I knew he was right.
Both Les and Berniece are gone, but my fond memories of them lives on, but only because I got over myself.
Why bother not taking offense? Taking offense of another is a sure way of missing out on what could otherwise be a non-offensive relationship.