Friday, February 6, 2015

Being Offended

Men don’t get offended.  Angry maybe, irritated at times and when things get really bad we might knock some heads a bit to prove a point.  But we don’t get offended.


Why don’t true men get offended?

Simple.  Being offended is a choice.  It’s an excuse made by people to cover up for their failures and shortcomings.  It’s human nature…if I can blame my faults on somebody else offending me, then I don’t have to own that weakness or make effort to overcome it.

For example…somebody says something that hurts my feelings.  I can do one of two things: a) Fix it so that my feelings aren’t hurt by resolving the situation or I can b) allow those feelings to fester and rot my soul while I wallow and self pity and blame that other person for offending me to justify that feeling.


Which do you think is the manlier approach?  Isn’t it obvious?


So we can agree that true men simply don’t get offended because they choose not to be.


Elder David A. Bednar gave a great talk about this here. If you’ve not read that talk…I highly recommend you do before you read the rest of this post.


In light of that knowledge that being offended is a conscious choice, I’d ask…


Do we really believe that the Holy Ghost can so easily get offended?


You hear people say it all the time.  “Don’t do things that offend the spirit”… I wonder at times if we really understand what we are saying.  Because it sounds to me like we are saying that the third member of the Godhead who has seen EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING (good and bad) from the beginning of existence…we are saying that this very powerful man of spirit is so easily offended that he storms off like a small child and pouts every time we do something slightly/potentially offensive.


I honestly don’t think we really mean that.  Do we?


The Holy Ghost is a man.  We know this because the scriptures refer to HIM as a HE and modern revelation has told us plainly that he is a “spirit man”.


The Holy Ghost has been around since the beginning.  He has witnessed humanity at its worst.  He has personally been a participant in some of the most horrendous and wicked times in the history of the world.  He has been there to uplift and comfort good men and women in their times of crisis and need and he has stood by the father when the worst in mankind has perpetrated evil across the globe. He has been there to offer courage to the righteous and help them to battle overwhelming odds of evil.  He was there as they crucified the Savior of the world, and was personal witness to some of the greatest wickedness mankind could perpetrate as he comforted Mormon during the last days of the Nephites.


I don’t think that when I stumble and make a mistake (i.e. I hit my thumb with a hammer and curse) that it hurts his feelings so bad that he leaves me alone because he’s been offended. I don’t think he abandon’s me when I walk into a casino to get to my hotel, or when I’ve ended up in the wrong part of town.  I just don’t believe that happens.  In fact personal experience tells me that it doesn’t.  The spirit is with me as long as I personally try to keep him with me.  I’ve been in some dicey places and I’ve never felt the spirit ‘leave’ me…I have felt the warning alert from it that I need to remove myself from that place, but he’s never left me.

Scriptures tell us that the spirit of God strives with us to help us do the right things.  STRIVE is a word that says that he works hard on a constant basis and does not give up very easily.  Those of us who have received the Gift of the Holy Ghost…have the blessing of that “STRIVING” companionship all of the time.  As a missionary I saw him striving with people who had not yet received that gift, because they were tuned-in and had “Ears to hear”.


That, I believe, is the key to understanding the spirit…it is that we have to actively listen. That is also the key to the idea of having the spirit removed from us is that we actively STOP listening.  We deny the spirit…and that is what gets us into trouble.

I don’t think that the Holy Ghost ever stops ‘striving’ with us…but I do think that we ignorantly stop listening to him.  (OK…I will admit that when we are wicked enough, and we are beyond hearing, that he does stop ‘striving’ as much…but only after giving monumental effort to break through…and even after he’s not  ‘striving’ as much he still waits and watches for an opening to come back in…he’s very clever that way.)


When we make choices that begin to deaden our spiritual sensitivity, we slowly stop hearing what he is saying to us.  We stop trusting that he has anything of value to teach us.  We lean into our own understanding, trust the arm of flesh,  and cease to hearken to the spirit.  We just tune him out.


He does not get offended…we do.  We take offense to the things of God and don’t want to hear them anymore.  But the Holy Ghost does not give up on us.  He’s still there…I don’t think we can drive him off that easily.  He’s a pretty tough dude.  It is US that choose to be offended and stop listening…not him.


The good news about this is, that if we will be humble and listen to him, we will HEAR him.  It doesn’t take much to invite him into our lives because I don’t think he’s all that far away most of the time anyway…remember we are the ones that stray…not him.  We have to focus our focus and listen to him  to invite the spirit into our lives…not the other way around.


I know that I’m kind of going against the ‘traditional grain’ of gospel teaching...I just think that there is a better, more positive way to teach people about the Holy Ghost and what this gift truly means.  I don’t think that he gives up on us as easily as we imply sometimes and I really do think that it’s on us to listen to him better. We need to know how to listen better.


So rather than focus our teaching on the external things we should not do that “drive away the spirit”…maybe we ought to focus on training people on HOW to listen and hear the Holy Ghost and understand that it takes some practice to hear, and then to continue to hear takes effort and that they need to focus inward.  The effort is well worth it.  Maybe we’d have fewer people wander into dark paths if we’d stop telling them all the wrong they are doing and rather focus on encouraging the right things they are doing?  Stop telling people all the ways they are ‘offending’ the spirit and help them to find ways to hear him when they need him the most because he is there in there darkest hours, if they will actively listen...even if they have done something wrong...he still speaks to them, urging them to fix the mistake and apply the atonement in their lives.


I know that is what I’m going to teach in my calling and in my home.