Yesterday the W$J ran a story on “microinequities” — “the subtle putdowns, snubs, dismissive gestures and sarcastic tones that can sap motivation.” Life is full of microinequities, and Church life is not a safe haven.
Not long ago I heard about a woman in our ward who had been attending Church fairly regularly for the first time in many years. But when her home teachers asked if they might visit her at the Church rather than driving a half hour to her home, well, she decided that she would rather be inactive. I hear stories like this in every ward. Is there anything to be done about it? Here is the “expert” advice:
Any time we feel hurt “about not being recognized, we take it personally,” Ms. Moynahan agreed. “But taking things personally is a way to get stuck.” On the other hand, she said, ignoring subtle slights is just as bad as retaliating with an explosive personal attack because “you start feeling that you’re no good.” Ideally, you should react immediately by affirming the value of your relationship with a microinequity sender — perhaps by saying, “I want to be part of your team,” Ms. Moynahan advised. Give the benefit of the doubt; assume the behavior was unintentional. Next, she continued, pose a nonthreatening question. Ask, “Did someone forget to put my name on the distribution list?” Or “Did you put your e-mail in all caps because you’re mad?” The workshop leader distributed a toolkit with additional tips. Among them: Describe the offensive behavior factually. Express how it affected you and others. Suggest specific changes that require feedback. Spell out the changes’ potential benefits for all involved.
Well, maybe that’s good advice. I prefer to remember James 3:17-18: “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”