Microagressions

“Don’t look at me like that. It’s like you think I’m stupid.” “This is a look of confusion,” I replied. “I have never thought of you as stupid.”  This exchange reminded me of how difficult communication is and how much we can say without using words.

Microagressions is a term used more and more today to express unfriendly tone of voice, body language or word use. It takes a lot of self-awareness to know when we inflicted one on someone else.  Even slight offenses can hurt and scrape open old wounds.

I was thumbing through a small book, The Way of the Heart by Henri Nowen, looking at my highlights (1981). This little, 86 page book, has a lot to say to me. This jumped out at me, “Often quite unconsciously we classify our people as very good, good, neutral, bad and very bad. These judgements influence deeply the thoughts, words and actions of our ministry,” (pg 35). This is where microagressions begin.

When I am honest with myself, this quote becomes more true than I want it to be. I do classify people as soon as I meet them. It is an automatic response that I’m not proud of. It is tempting to brush off such thoughts and tell myself that I don’t mean any harm by them. However, often harm takes place without us even knowing it unlike the exchange above where I was made aware of my slight.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

It’s a challenge to take every thought captive, but our thoughts do influence behavior. It is recognizable to others. Growing in the likeness of God means I am willing to look deeply at my thoughts and actions. It means I am willing to address those little microagressions that God makes me aware of so I can be the best representative of His Kingdom.

Recognizing my own sin isn’t fun, but it softens my heart toward myself and others. It helps my compassion grow. It changes my heart, so it’s worth it. I’m reminded that I want others to see that I want others to see the best of Christianity in me. I want others to see Christ i my words and my actions. It’s a tall order. One I can only fill by working at it.

How about you? Are you ready for some self-reflection? Are you willing to look at you deep inner thoughts about others and how that influences your behavior? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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