humankind

How to Create Space With Those Who are Different

I wanted to melt into the floor.

Once again my mouth had opened before my brain engaged and the words I said came out to be insulting. When will I learn? When will I think about what I am about to say before I say it?

Have you been there?

Too often, we think we know it all; but seldom do we know what and where another person is coming from. And then, our words can come across demeaning and cruel when maybe we didn’t mean it to be that way at all. [Of course, there is always the chance that we did mean it that way because we have held ourselves in higher esteem than we ought to.]

Ah, and there’s the key.

Humility is the toughest discipline to grasp and fully enact in our lives. I see it as the main principle for Christian living. Without humility, we are never going to “get it right”. Without humility, there won’t be kindness or understanding or compassion or any of the other traits we so desire from our Lord Jesus.

Especially in today’s culture of racial unrest, humility is needed from both sides of the fence. Ah, we don’t like to hear about humility mainly because it is a lot like the bad “S” word… SUBMISSION. It’s likely, we all think we are a little better than most people. But what does the Word of God say?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3&4

These are hard words to swallow. But this does not mean we belittle ourselves. It is more that we “think about ourselves less and think of others first”. Life isn’t about “me” and the world does not revolve around me.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. LEwis

And Andrew Murray suggests,

“The only humility that is really ours is … that which we carry with us in our daily conduct.”  

Andrew Murray

Humility is the beginning of kindness and compassion. With humble attitudes, we will find it natural to act in kindness towards others. So, let’s get back to how we cultivate that humility and grow kindness.

Steps before we open our mouths

STOP

Before we speak or give our “wise suggestions” to another, perhaps we ought to get to know them a little. Make sure that we understand a bit about their culture and the things they deal with on a daily basis. I’m finding you can “know” someone rather well but not REALLY know them. Try these scriptures on for size.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28

LISTEN

If we really take some time to listen to others and learn about them. We might just realize they don’t need our “suggestions”. And it could be that we don’t really have anything to offer them anyway. When we let our tongue fly, this is what brings on hurt and anger which is followed by arguing and bad-mouthing, all this is not acceptable for a follower of Christ,

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18

CONSIDER

Now that you know more about a person’s situation, consider how you would want to be treated and do likewise.

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 29:20

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

CREATE SPACE WITH LOVE AND KINDNESS

Possibly, we are a bit too close for comfort. Backing up and acting in love and kindness create the space people need to understand where you are coming from. Creating space allows both parties an opportunity to consider the aforementioned steps. If you are the one receiving ill words, give the benefit of the doubt. Think like Jesus, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Consequently, acting in kindness can make a difference for everyone. In her book, Humankindness, Ashlee Eiland states,

Kindness may be a mushy word, but it’s the dark horse of our humanity. It’s not loud or demanding, but given enough time, it wins.

Humankind - AshleeEiland on Kindness

About the book, Humankindness

create space Humankind Book

Ashlee Eiland was raised in an affluent African American home but struggled to find her place to belong. In this book, she writes about instances throughout her life that were “uncomfortable” in the least. How she handled it and how she gave space for others to learn about her culture and also about attitudes and actions that weren’t as easy to get over.

Ashlee encourages us to create space and act in kindness and “rediscover our own humanity through another lens. She shares that sometimes sacrifice is needed to create that space. She shared at one time as a small girl having a white babysitter that didn’t know how to comb her “black” hair. She was doing her best only to become frustrated, creating an even worse mess. Ashlee concluded in that chapter,

So, we have a choice. Either we can resent the fact that some people can’t give us everything and demand that they try harder, that they sacrifice even more of themselves.

Or we can sit under the comb, knowing in our hearts that the outcome might be less than desirable – but also knowing that trying is the best offering some can give.

CREATING SPACE ~ Understanding and bearing up under it.

This goes both ways

Do we subject others to our own standards? In middle school, my family moved from a medium-sized town in Ohio to a very small town in Wisconsin. My original school had a dress code and the girls still wore dresses in most cases. The school in Wisconsin had no dress code. I still chose to wear a dress because I was most comfortable in a dress. After the first few questions, it became more my signature because I gave them space and they gave me space.

I see this same type of thing in The Church. A stranger comes to visit but they aren’t wearing the right clothing, they are too loud or outspoken. God forbid, they sit in “your pew”. These things shouldn’t matter to us. We should reach out in love and friendship and if there are things that need changing, God will do that work.”.

create space Humankind Quote

Ashlee says,

Our work is to learn how to stand in awe of each created being without making modifications or trying to bring out something that’s not ours to call forth.

We need to be cautious when what’s true for us isn’t true of someone else’s life, avoiding the conclusion that it’s not just that we differ or respectfully disagree but that their choice makes them unrelatable.

Unrelatable can become unworthy, or inferior if we aren’t careful. It all comes back to humility and creating space for each other. With this attitude, we can go far.


Making space. this is what true friendship is about and also how we learn about cultural differences and help each other learn and understand

Will you create space with me?

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

I would like to thank Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

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