Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Who else remembers the wonderful feelings of joy and freedom that accompanied the school teacher's words every time she spoke the words, "Class dismissed"?

I loved school. Even so, at the end of every school day, the word Dismissed! made my heart leap. I couldn't wait to get home - to the horses, to the dogs, to long walks on the farm. I might have been tired and dragging when 3:00 rolled around, but I inevitably discovered new reserves of energy the moment my teacher dismissed the class for the day.

And then there is the other kind of "dismissed."

You know, when you interject something into a conversation, and the other person either ignores what you just said or explains how it is totally irrelevant. Like...

Person 1: "The light switch in the laundry room isn't working."
Person 2: "Maybe a fuse is out."
Person 1: "Impossible. I checked the breaker box just last week and all the fuses were fine."

Okay, so maybe Person 1 is correct. Maybe a blown fuse isn't the problem. Still, wouldn't it be so much more gracious to say, "I checked the breaker box last week and everything looked good. I really don't think it's a fuse, but I appreciate your suggestion. Perhaps I should check the breaker box again to be sure."

Or maybe the conversation goes like this...

Person A: "This squeaky door hinge is driving me nuts!"
Person B: "My Grandma used to rub a bar of soap on the hinges of her screen door, to make them stop squeaking."
Person A: "That's stupid. Didn't your Grandma know soap won't fix a squeaky hinge?!"

Maybe soap really won't fix a squeaky hinge, but did Person A really have to call Grandma stupid?!

Right now, you might be thinking, "What's your point, Camille? What's the big deal?" Maybe, just maybe, you are beginning to dismiss me before you've finished reading this post.

My point is this: While being dismissed from school at the end of the day can give someone renewed energy and enthusiasm, this other kind of dismissal does exactly the opposite. It saps the joy and life right out of a person.

If a person is dismissed enough in this manner, he'll just stop showing up for class. Stop trying to join in the conversation. Stop sharing ideas or experiences or fond memories. Stop looking for ways to engage or to help solve problems.

I've been on both sides of this horrible kind of non-dialogue.

And I want to say...

If you are a person who finds yourself routinely dismissed by someone important to you, I am so sorry. I know how disheartening that is. But, please, don't let the other person's rude behavior cause you to retreat into a silent hole behind a wall of emotional concrete. Even if your idea truly is ridiculous, even if your Grandma truly is stupid, you are are a unique and precious Image Bearer:  your ideas and input have value and should be respected.

If you are a person who frequently makes comments like "That's stupid!" or "No, you're wrong, because I blah-blah-blah" - would you please just stop and listen to yourself?! How often are you dismissive of someone else, even someone you love? I want to challenge you to do two things. First, STOP IT. Stop the dismissive comments! Second, apologize to the person to whom you have spoken in a dismissive manner. Say the words out loud, to the person's face:  "I did not listen to and receive your comments graciously. I am sorry. Will you forgive me? I value your input and am going to try to be a better listener." Yes, you will probably have to say this more than once - old habits are hard to break.

And for folks on both sides of these subtly hurtful interchanges, let us endeavor to be mindful of the dignity due the Imago Dei, the almighty, all-wise, all-sufficient God who condescends to not only listen to His creatures, but who stooped even further and walked and talked on this earth as one of us.

If anyone on the planet ever was justified in being dismissive of those around him - their ridiculous comments and questions and bickerings - it was Jesus. But instead of dismissing us, He loves us and listens to us. He engages us and draws us into a holy conversation.

Holy Spirit, I want to be like Jesus. Please, Lord, make it so! 

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