God is Working on You
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
We are all works in progress. We are not who we used to be, and we are not yet all we will become. We make adjustments. We change. We grow. That’s how life works.
I’m hearing a version of the statement below a lot these days.
“I just feel like I can’t even open my mouth without offending someone. What used to be okay is not okay anymore.”–mostly white people, usually male
The truth is that they were never okay. We (and by we, I mean straight, cis-gendered and usually white people) are just now realizing that. Things like:
Using sexualized language in the workplace
Native American symbols as mascots
Referring to people of a different race as “you people”
Mistaking a person of color for a service worker.
or saying things like:
But where are you really from?
Really? You don’t look like (race/gender/sexual orientation)
I don’t see color.
I just can’t keep up with everyone’s pronouns these days
And when we learn that a phrase we’ve used or something we’ve done for years is hurtful to someone, an initial reaction is to make it about us and not about the person who has been hurt.
I didn’t mean it that way.
So you’re saying I’m racist/homophobic/misogynistic?
I’m so tired of people making me feel bad for behaving like I have for years.
Take a cue from Walt Whitman via Ted Lasso: Be curious, not judgmental. In other words, instead of focusing on how the interaction has made YOU feel or judging the way the other person reacted, be curious about why you have caused harm. It may be that your remark or action carries with it the weight of years of prejudice and oppression that you’re not even aware of.
Listen. Apologize. Move on. Learn more. Do Better. Repeat.
The next time someone tells you that something you’ve said or done is a micro-agression (aka the everyday indignities and insults that members of marginalized groups endure in their routine interactions with people), instead of taking offense or dismissing them as oversensitive, think of it as an opportunity for growth. The One who began a good work in you will be faithful to see that work all the way through…and just might send a few angels along the way to help complete the project.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.