Living the Unoffended Life



The Unoffended Life

“The unoffended life is the best way to live.”

What is the unoffendable life?

It’s the mark of a person who doesn’t easily get bent out of shape. They don’t carry a chip on his or her shoulder. They let offenses roll off their back and choose to overlook slights, real or perceived.

In the rest of this blog,  I’ll use the masculine pronoun “he”  for clarity, but this asset applies equally to men and women.

The unoffended person chooses not to hold grudges. He understands, “If you like people, people will like you.”  He realizes that relationships always trump harsh words.

The unoffended man is good-natured.

Webster’s describes Good-natured as “having a pleasant disposition and displaying  an

easygoing manner, especially in social situations.”

The unoffended man oozes Graciousness.

Listen to Paul’s words in Colossians 4:6:   Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  

You ask, “What is the definition of graciousness?”

 I’m unsure, but you’ll know when you see it.

My father, Clayton Iles, who lived from 1934 to 2003, was a gracious and unoffended man.

I keep returning to my Daddy because he was so remarkable and still lives through my writing as well as four generations of Iles’s.

He had all the traits of an unoffended man: self-effacing, humorous, forgiving, and unerring in his belief in seeing the best in others.

Above all, Daddy was comfortable in his own skin wherever he went.

He would’ve been as relaxed and winsome in the Oval Office as he was at the Dry Creek Community Catfish Lunch. In either venue,  if asked, he would’ve burst out in his favorite song (and mine as well), “The Wayfaring Stranger:”

“I am just going over Jordan.

 I am just going over home.”


Let me be clear: Clayton Iles wasn’t perfect,  but he was consistent. My father at home was no different than the public man.

I can honestly say that when Daddy died,  he did not have one single enemy.

That says a lot.


The unoffended man doesn’t fly off the handle.

To become an unoffended person takes practice.  It’s a habit like any other.


I’m still working on it. I have a ways to go.

One way I’m learning to be unoffended is the part of writing I detest.

Rejection letters.

It’s part of the life of a professional writer.

Rejection letters. You’ll have a stack of them if you’re sending out proposals.


I’ve learned not to take it personally.

To accept it with graciousness. 

Send a note to the editor. Trying to glean anything from them and their rejection that can teach me.

You have no friends. You have no enemies. You only have teachers.

Additionally,  I’m learning to accept life’s setbacks and difficulties with a smile, “Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll just put it in the next book.”

How you look at something goes a long way toward being unflappable and unoffendable.

The confident, unoffended man doesn’t have to get in the last word.   Sometimes, he chooses to bite off his tongue. He knows that sometimes, the best answer to ignorance is silence.

Because silence can speak volumes.

Living an unoffended life is not a sign of weakness. It doesn’t entail being run over, pushed around, or exploited.  It is a sign of inner strength and peace.

The unoffended man knows there are hills to die on.

There’s a time and place to dig in and take a stand.

 But he understands these battles are far and few between, so he chooses his battles carefully.

There’s no chip on his shoulder.

He attempts to cut people slack, remembering that folks often act a certain way because they have a rock in their shoe.


He chooses his reactions to people and events. When confronted with road rage, he’ll give a sad shrug followed by, “I bet he’s hell to live with,” or an equally strong, “I’d hate to be married to her.”

Richard Carlson’s excellent book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff speaks of this concept of being unoffendable.

Take note of the full title: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  (and It’s All Small Stuff).

The unoffendable person overlooks the small irritations of life.


I close with several lines from my favorite Jerry Jeff Walker song, “The Stranger.”

“He was the kind who′d pay no mind

When he was bumped into.

He was the kind that let you find out

All that he knew.

He never got uptight, never started a fight,

Never threw so much as a dart.

He was a man after my own heart.

And I loved him.

I loved him true.”

(Lyrics by Jerry Merrick)


Young Longleaf Pines in Kisatchie National Forest.


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