According to Merriam-Webster.com, “Microaggression is a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses prejudiced attitudes toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority); also: behavior or speech that is characterized by such comments or actions.”
If this terminology becomes the norm and society begins to interpret the actions of others based on assumptions, rather than fact, I am not sure where it will lead. But I do know that to judge another person’s actions as aggressive solely based on his or her demeanor, or unintended actions, we are diving into shark-infested waters. We will be raising a generation of selfish, hero-less victims who look to others to make them happy and blame society for their woes. Heroes are born by overcoming great obstacles. They don’t look to others for affirmation or coddling, and certainly they do not blame others for their predicament. Heroes are educated in the crucible of affliction and are remembered for what they overcame, not what they blamed on others.
I often think of my two heroes: Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, and Job, who weathered the storms Satan placed before him. Both men traveled through adversity and came to love and trust God infinitely.
Joseph was a favored child who grew up in gentle circumstances. His parents doted on him. In his youth, Joseph received his calling from God that he had a great mission to perform and his family would fall at his feet and pay homage to him. Joseph served God, and by rights he should have prospered without adversity, but God knew Joseph’s mettle had to be tested and refined. Joseph was sold into slavery by his murderous brothers, who should have loved him and cared for him. In Egypt, Joseph prospered for a time but then was wrongfully accused of immorality by Potiphar’s wife. If righteous people never suffer, Joseph should have been spared a prison sentence. For years, he was doomed to spend his days in jail. Did Joseph whine and complain to God about his injustice? No. Joseph set about helping the other prisoners until the prison guard noticed his loyalty and put him in charge of all the other prisoners.
Joseph made friends and interpreted dreams for his fellow prisoners. He should have expected some consideration from the chief butler for interpreting his dream, but the butler forgot Joseph. The Lord did not forget Joseph. When the time was right, Joseph was freed, and his life changed in an instant. He became what he should have been all along. He gained the respect of Pharaoh as second-in-command in Egypt. When his brothers came, he frankly forgave them and said basically, “You didn’t send me into Egypt; God did.”
If Joseph had been schooled in microaggression, he would have spent his time looking to everyone but himself for solutions to his plight. He would have complained to Jacob, his father, about the unjust treatment of his brothers. He would have sought revenge on Potiphar and his wife and spent the rest of his life bitterly trying to right the wrong. He would never have gained respect in the prison or have the confidence of God to be able to interpret dreams. He would have been too busy playing the blame game, looking for evidence of microaggression.
Joseph understood the principle of God’s economy. God doesn’t balance the books every evening. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to gain the rewards of a righteous life. On the same token, sometimes it takes a lifetime for an evil person to reap the rewards of their sinful practices. Just as sure as the sun rises in the morning and makes its path across the sky to sunset, God will reward every soul according to his or her desires for goodness and labors of love, and the wicked will receive their reward. It’s the law of the harvest. What you plant, you will reap. You can’t plant nightshade and expect to harvest roses. Microaggression has the capacity to blur that vision by placing the blame for misdeeds on other people with no self-reflection or desire for self-reliance.
Job was happily living a life of prosperity with his wife and family. One evening, his entire world was turned upside-down. All his family members were killed and his flocks destroyed. If it wasn’t enough to lose his family and all his worldly goods, his body was racked with boils and disease. His friends came to tell him of his wickedness and tried to get him to deny his God, but Job simply said of his terrible losses, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”
As he suffered the terrible injustice of his afflictions and disease, he simply said, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19: 25-26 KJV)
Job was not taught to look for evidence of microaggression. It didn’t occur to him to blame his problems on someone else. He didn’t curse the government, his upbringing or his God. He accepted his plight as a little child who trusts a loving father. His rewards were magnificent. After all Job had suffered, he said “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” Job not only heard of the Lord, but he also saw Him and knew Him personally.
The Lord became Job’s dearest friend, and the Lord replaced all that Job had lost. Job prospered again but with a deeper appreciation for life and of his Savior. Job ended his life in peace.
The Lord doesn’t balance his books every night, but He will not forget those who have become His friend. It is difficult to look to the Lord and receive the blessings that come after adversity if you never allow yourself to experience hardships. Bumping up against people is part of this school of life. We must learn to ignore people who offend us. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Jesus said, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” Microaggression is a license to judge others and wallow in the mire of self-pity. Such behavior will never lead to a relationship with God or anyone else.
Certainly, there is racism and injustice in life, and I wish it were not so. We all experience bullying and unkindness in our lives. Even Jesus suffered at the hands of those who should have treated Him with love and respect. We can choose to allow those injustices to make us better or make us bitter.
Adversity, whether it comes from calamities, infirmities or other people, is a teacher. Often, we resent our suffering and seek for reasons why and who caused the suffering. In so doing, we miss the lessons God wants to teach us. Our journey through our refiner’s fire is designed to purge us from selfishness and pride. Adversity gives us an opportunity to turn our lives over to a loving Father who will teach us how to bear our sorrows with dignity and humility. If we let Him, He will teach us how to rise above the cares of the world and truly live in the kingdom He prepared for us. Anything that stands in the way of God’s tutoring is a curse rather than a blessing.
Every person born on this earth has a mission to perform; Joseph to save Egypt and Israel from famine. Job to send a story of faith, loyalty and humility down through the ages to inspire us. Great men of all ages have written their names in the sands of time. They traveled through a refining process and came out the victor. It would have been a different story if they had been instructed with the microaggression principle.
Microaggression is a Pandora’s box that contains calamities and ills our world does not need. If we want the future generation to foster heroes, our children must be taught to look inside and upward for answers to their suffering, not to their peers and society. Growth comes by overcoming challenges. The victory comes to those who work harder and climb higher despite the pain. Great men and women become heroes by overcoming adversity, not succumbing to it.
Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.