Do you find yourself feeling offended often? I encounter this reality every single day. Many people are so easily offended by me, by others (people, places, things, ideas).
Lately I’ve been listening to some lectures by Richard Rohr, who consistently points out the ego, or what he calls the “small self” is always easily offended. Another way to say it is that the part of you that is easily offended is not the true you, it is your ego. I’ve been considering this for a couple of weeks and paying close attention to when I feel offended and why. Every single time I have been offended – without fail – it is connected to my ego.
Rohr is teaching something extremely important here.
The Small Self: this is Rohr’s name for our ego. The ego has an intense need to feel right, admired, important, successful, have status, look good, etc. Rohr calls the ego the “small self” because it’s so much more flimsy and useless than our true self. The small self is so fragile that it has to constantly self protect. The small self defines itself over and against other people – it always needs an enemy and needs to win. If we are constantly offended by other people’s thoughts and actions, if we constantly feel the need to point out where everyone else is wrong and we are right, then we know that we are living primarily out of our small self. This is a miserable way to live.
The True Self: In contrast to the flimsy and fragile small self, the true self is largely invulnerable to offense. This is because the true self isn’t something we create/generate, but is something that we receive from God. The true self is the created self, the person God has made us to be. That self is safe from all hard because it is “Hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3). The true self does not need to appear strong because it is strong. It doesn’t take offense because it is able to forgive offenses in real time – immediately – without having to set the record straight or inform somebody of how they are wrong. The true self feels compassionate instead of offended. This is a joyful way to live.
If we are easily offended we are highly invested in our own ego, our own small self. A sign of true spiritual maturity is that we simply don’t become offended by others. We forgive others in real time as we also forgive ourselves. I shudder to think how much of my life is lived out of my small self, my ego. I am giving myself to trying to rid myself of this emotional and spiritual cancer.