Life has a way of teaching us lessons that stay forever ingrained. The lesson marks us, leaving us permanently changed. Eyes are opened. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I was in the classroom. The lesson? Condescension. I was treated with such condescension that my thoughts spun for the remainder of the day. Literally.
Condescension is U.G.L.Y.
There I said it. It is ugly. Here is what I learned about condescension:
- it implies a descent from dignity or superiority
- it is having to stoop to one that is regarded as inferior
- it treats another person in this manner because they consider themselves to be superior to the other
- it stems from a deep-seated fear of rejection
- one treats another with condescension because it is easier to belittle a person than it is to get to know them
- it thinks by causing rejection first, you avoid rejection, mockery & disappointment
- it is an assumption that you know more than everyone
- it is when a person is devoid of compassion
My grandparents were immigrants. My grandma & grandpa had a deep love of God. They were the real deal. They were servants at heart. They lived to serve. To them, everyone was important. And they lived as if everyone was more important than them, smarter than them. They did not strive to be humble. They were humble.
The experience I had yesterday was offensive to me. It was not my feelings that were hurt. It was deeper than that. As I mulled it over, I found myself deeply appreciative for my mom. She never tolerated my brother or I treating each other with anything other than respect & kindness. We knew better than to speak belittling of each other. My parents did not spank often but I knew better than to speak ugly in our home. Mom was a small woman but her size did not diminish the punishment. She was firm in how we kids were to treat each other. And we learned that it was the same way we were to treat others. Disrespect of people & their lives was not lightly regarded.
Since yesterday, I have been examining my experience.
We are so quick to spout that we respect & guard human life. Yet when we treat another human being with condescension, our actions speak quite the opposite.
As Christians, we are called to love each other with “agapao” love. We can throw that around pretty loosely. If we truly believed that then we would treat each other with the highest regard. We would act in the best interest of the other person. We would love sacrificially.
If we truly believed that we are called to love each other, we would realize that we as believers, house the very spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, within us. We would not be so quick to treat each other condescendingly. Seriously. We would not speak words, write words in an email, on Facebook, on Twitter that would cut another person down. We would treat each other in a way to affirm, encourage & build up. We would not be so quick to look down our noses at anyone.
As I continued to mull this all over, I had to go talk it over with my mom. I had the privilege of having a conversation with her as to why she raised us the way she did. I thanked her for instilling respect for people & modeling a heart of compassion. In that discussion, she shared an experience she had as a young woman, still single. It was then that she learned this verse:
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” (Romans 12:10, KJV).
There truly are times the KJV truly still says it best.
Do we truly honor one another?
Do we truly give preference to one another?
Do we truly think of others as being above us? Better than us?
The experience I had yesterday was an affront because of Whose I am. You see, we are each created in the image of God. Bearing His likeness. His Spirit lives in each of us from the moment of salvation. May I always remember & treat others with preference. With honor. For that is what pleases God.