Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Taking offense

I bet when you read that title you thought I would be writing about how offended I am. How offended I am that people ask who Brody's real parents are. How offended I am when people ask why we don't adopt a child from the US. How offended I am when people assume adoption was the second-best way to add to our family. How offended I am when people refer to Brecken as our "real son."

But the truth is, I'm not offended, and I'd like to tell you why. However, if you are one who is easily offended, I suggest you pack up your ego and hustle on to another blog where people live on sunshine and rainbows, mmmkay? (Sorry, my sarcasm leaks out occasionally.)

Or you could stay here and learn why it's freeing to not be offended.

There might have been a time in my life when I would get offended (particularly when I felt people were trying to hurt me), even though I acknowledged that taking offense was an energy-zapper. BUT I AM LEARNING, and oh, what a relief it has been to learn how to handle those situations.

First of all, most people who express the sentiments mentioned above don't really understand the full meaning of what they are saying. Adoption, for one, is a tricky language of the mind. "Birth moms," "first families," "forever families," fees, timelines, referrals...it really is like learning a new language, so just because someone says something that lacks full truth, full understanding or full cordiality, it doesn't give me the right or reason to be offended.

People will say things that might strike a nerve, along with a host of other miscommunicated ideas, misconceptions, or misunderstood questions and comments. However, to be offended is to assume that people are saying things with a mean spirit. So what if they said something that was inaccurate? I've done it plenty of times! People will talk about things that they don't fully understand, and they will say things that they don't even know are politically incorrect, particularly in the adoption world. I can choose to be offended by those comments and get mad and swing my proverbial fists in anger, or I can do a few other things, such as kindly and gently steering them in the right direction or ignoring the slight if it's inconsequential.

Some Truth that has really helped me develop in this area is this from Psalms (119:165): "Great peace have they who love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." If you love the Truth, you will be offended by NOTHING. It's written up there if you need to see it again. Let it marinate in your brain for a while. You will have GREAT PEACE!

When you get offended, you are choosing to do so (often because of your own ego...let's be honest). It is not your right to be offended, it is your choice to not be offended. And therefore, it is your choice to be offended. Choose that course if you'd like, but doesn't that just weigh more heavily on you anyway? Additionally, getting offended really makes the situation more about me ("I have been offended," or "You have offended me.") than it is about helping people understand the truth of the whole situation. True, things can be offensive (like that time yesterday when one of my students said, "This is f-ing stupid,") but I don't have to be offended by them. (That kid was entitled to his own opinion, and I'm not going to make it about me.)

If you believe someone is TRYING to offend you, you can ask yourself one question: Is it true? (The other day I heard about an adoptive parent being offended when someone said that her son was black. News flash: He IS black. You cannot be offended by the truth!)

If it's true, people can say it (although this doesn't always mean they should). Sometimes, the truth of an "offensive" comment necessitates an evaluation of that situation. Trust me, I have adjusted quite a few things in my life based on a comment that might have offended me...except that the "offensive" comment turned out to be true, and I needed to change something. Brad's sister shared a great example with me once (one that she taught her young boys): If someone says you pick your boogers, and you do, you (1) can't be offended because it's true; and (2) should probably think about changing that characteristics for your own good. If someone says you pick your boogers but you don't, then you can't be offended because it's not true! Brilliant! Freeing!!

Sometimes people want to talk to us about our adoption. They say some silly things (things we would have said three years ago, honestly), but that takes nothing away from the fact that most of them are truly excited and/or curious and do not have the vocabulary to express it in words the adoption community would accept as "positive adoption language." I'm not knocking positive adoption language...clearly I want our adopted kids to know we are their "real family" and that adoption isn't second-best, but I'm also not ticked or offended in any way when people around is don't know about those phrases. (If you'd like to know more about positive adoption language, go here. But seriously, no pressure.)

We love talking adoption, and we love God's Word. We are not offended.

Cheers to all...Christmas is almost here!