The other day, I read a blog post from someone I really respect about how disappointed she was about particular blogging practices.
I had a mixed reaction to her post. On one hand, I understood her reasoning.
And on the other hand, I had just been considering doing some of what disappointed her.
My heart sank.
And then, a thought occurred to me: if I decided to go ahead in the direction she critiqued, I might not gain her as a reader. I might offend my readers that share her opinion. She might not respect me.
“257/365” by Dave via Flickr using a Creative Commons license
And that wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Here’s another much more offensive post I read this week (not offensive to me, mind you–just a firecracker of current issues). When she penned it, Heather must have thought about the readers she might lose, the friends she might offend.
But on the other hand, taking a stand, being honest and open to criticism? That’s called being a writer.
I admire Heather for speaking up, being candid, for being loving in that candor. I am inspired: what are the issues where I am called to stand up and be clear about what God puts on my heart?
Thinking about this potential for offense, how much it scares me, how much I shy away from it normally, I realize: most of my major writing milestones have come right after I’ve offended or been achingly candid with people I love.
Not an offense like an off-color joke. It’s more like when I grow out of being the person they were used to, and the growing pains make the relationship ache. Every so often, I take a break from pleasing people because I can’t do it any more. I become more honest, and stop worrying about what those around me will think.
And funnily enough, almost every time I let honesty break through the surface of my domesticated self, I start writing like mad. There is an explosion. Because if we can’t be ourselves with the people we love, if we can’t risk rejection with them, we have no chance with the blank page, blank canvas, the business plan or the new ministry.
Risking offense makes good art and good work possible.
So I’m asking you: Who are you afraid of offending? What message are you afraid of offending with? Maybe that’s the very message we’re to speak, the very person that you and I are supposed to bowl over with our candor. We are meant to speak. We are meant to have a voice. Even if it disappoints someone.
So, today: Offend someone with love. Offend gracefully. And with all the brilliant honesty of the stars.