April 29, 2018

Why We're all Worthy of Respect

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. “ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

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It’s easy for us to think we understand ourselves and the world perfectly. People see everything through the lenses of their training, right or wrong.

What if our vision is cloudy? What if our preparation for the realities of life is incomplete? We could be making short-sighted judgments and choices.

Peter, the Disciple

This strong man had his weaknesses. He was a rough fisherman. That was his background. He had a temper, and he spoke before he thought. That’s the personality he grew up with.

Fortunately, he had gained discipline and power by the time the events in the book of Acts took place.  He was a different man.

Do we Criticize Others too Soon?

Everybody has a story to tell. All people have limitations of some kind. Some of us try to hide them. That’s why it makes no sense that we judge each other so harshly.

Many people think they’re qualified to evaluate others before they know their full background. If we know the motive for hurtful behavior, we might be able to understand it. However, there’s a big difference between comprehending inappropriateness and excusing, or accepting, it. I’m not suggesting we give any bad behavior a pass. Here are some situations we might come across:
  • That co-worker lashes out because she’s in pain continually.
  • A friend has a debilitating illness that damages her way of thinking.
  • That abuser of her children was hurt during her childhood.
  • The technologically challenged senior citizen can’t afford any devices in her own home. She doesn’t even have a telephone plan with a major carrier.
  • A student’s discomfort with reading is caused by a medical condition.
  • The woman who seems to think slowly is dealing with major medical and personal crises.

We’re all Damaged.

Many of us have been living with trauma since we were young. Some people pass on that pain to those who are closest to them. This is especially true for victims of child abuse and neglect.

The strongest of us are mature enough to recognize when we’re passing on our own pain. Surely that takes incredible self-awareness.

The words that are spoken to us are powerful. Some of us have been given emotionally crippling messages—directly or indirectly-- such as:
  • “Live only by your emotions.”
  • “Showing emotion is not acceptable.”
  • “Physical limitations are a sign of weakness or inferiority.”
  • “Disagreement with my way of thinking is not allowed.”

The result of such communication is often diminished confidence. In any case, we can’t expect positive outcomes.

My Conclusion

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way.”—English poet/artist William Blake

The world definitely doesn’t look the same to every person.  We look at it through the lens of our background and our environment (culture).

We can’t pass on what we have no training in. In that way, social interactions are the same as hobbies or academics.   That’s why patience and understanding are important in any relationship.

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Are your communications empathetic?

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