Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Felt . . . OFFENDED!

"You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people.  However we do determine how we will act.  Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended."  - David A. Bednar
Many, many moons ago I received an anonymous letter in the mail.

And it wasn't nice.

No, it wasn't nice at all!

And to top it off  - it was from someone in my ward!!!

Up to that point in my life I had always believed that anyone who would be or could be offended had some troubles with their testimony.  After all, I naively surmised, if you had a testimony it wouldn't matter what anyone else says!

But it was on THAT day that I found myself with a deep, abiding testimony in my heart and a full-blown mean-spirited letter in my hand!!!

I felt hurt. I felt anger.  And I felt . . . OFFENDED!

All I wanted to do was crumble into a hundred, million, gazillion pieces right there and . . . never, ever go back to Church again!!

But at that very moment, while standing in the living room of our house, it was my children that kept me from crumbling . . .because, quite frankly, who has time to hide with pity in the closet when there's a menagerie of children all clamoring simultaneously for your undivided attention?

And my husband, who was the Bishop at the time, made sure I went back to Church the very next Sunday because there were six children under the age of six  that needed quieting during Sacrament Meeting and a piano that needed playing during Primary.

Talk about where "much is given . . ."

But going back to Church the next Sunday was not as easy as I thought it should be for people who had testimonies.  Because the moment I walked in those doors, I was enveloped with a claustrophobic air of suspicion.

And believe me when I say that I looked around and wondered . . .Who!



And why?

(Thank goodness playing the piano in Primary carries with it a sense anonymity!!)

For several days after my first Sunday back that letter a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y. plagued me.  It made me feel weak and vulnerable and on display.  It made me feel hurt and angry and insulted.  And almost instantaneously, I, who have always LOVED going and being in Church, decided that I maybe I shouldn't like it so much.

And I also decided that in order for me to stay on guard, I would keep the letter (frame it and place it on my nightstand) as a reminder of the mean, hurtful things someone had in their heart for me.

Oh my! Such a bad idea!

Such a very, VERY bad idea!

I honestly don't know how I came to my senses.

I don't know how the Lord ever got through to me in my miserable state!

But somehow, before the second Sunday dawned, I had successfully thrown that anonymous letter in the trash!!

Because it was destroying me!

To be honest, tossing the letter didn't mean that I was about to rush back to Church and shout "Gosh, I love Church and everyone in it, even those who anonymously send hate mail!

And to be even more honest, I was still very hesitant to return to Church the Sundays that followed.

But I went.  And I kept going.  And week by week going to Church got easier.

And I've learned that someone with a deep, abiding testimony can choose to feel offended! But, as Elder Bednar teaches, I'm also learning that "through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense."


  1. Thanks for sharing your honest feelings! On the other hand there are those who deliver really encouraging notes that lift us up. You my friend, did that for me... And I hung it on my fridge and it's still there! So thank you! It definitely isn't easy to choose not to be offended, to choose to forgive, and to choose to let it go. But if we do, we will be a lot happier, that's for sure!

  2. It is only through the power of the Atonement that I keep going to church here. Thanks so much for sharing. This is a great example of using agency to CHOOSE the right! Love you sister!

  3. LOL! I appreciate your honestly. I wish I couldn't say I can relate, but unfortunately, I can. Well, sort of...I actually KNOW who sent my letter.

    Oh, how grateful I am for perspective. When this happened to me I asked Heavenly Father to "show me things as they really are" so I could make improvements where needed without losing perspective and I was surprised to get the following answer: "These are not your issues and owning them would be a waste of your time and energy. Press forward." Press forward...empowering words at a time like this. (I have to admit that it was tempted to feel vindicated, but I knew that wasn't the intent of that answer so I focused on feeling gratitude and humility for having received that answer instead.)

    Some days were rough, but I had many, many more days when the experience felt like nothing more than a pebble in my shoe. And even on most of those days I was gently reminded that, "This pebble has a place and it's not with you. Why don't you let Me take care of it for you?"

    Pressing forward, I realized, wasn't a one person job and I was grateful for the help. :)

  4. Great post for so many people to hear. I can only imagine what that must have felt like for your entire family with the sacrifices you were all making as he was the bishop at the time. Whoever wrote it must have been in a horrible place at the time to do something like that. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

  5. OH how I miss you! Thank you for sharing. Amazingly, I also found refuge in being the primary pianist. I have tried to figure out why women, in our faith, work so hard to tear others down. Intentional or not, it is easy to offend and be offended. The Atonement is powerful, and we all need it. You are a great example of being a daughter of God. {hugs} from RI.

  6. Man oh man how I have missed out keeping up on your blog. I sure love you and your family. We really need to catch up. Please email me and we can arrange a time to get together. -Shayna