I tolerate you.
That’s basically what my friend heard. She was late to work, and her employer was short on patience. Before saying he couldn’t tolerate tardiness, he listed all the things about her he had already been tolerating. It was a personal list. A list aimed at who she is as a person, her personality, her quirks, even her background.
He probably meant for the main point of his tirade to be an emphasis on punctuality. But what she walked away with felt more like being attacked and unaccepted for who she is.
Maybe her boss wasn’t thinking. Upset and under pressure himself, he spoke rashly. Chose poorly.
Whatever the reason, my friend has had to navigate those feelings. She’s strong and smart and knows the difference between right and wrong. But it still stung. His dismissive tolerance hurt.
Of course tolerance seems to be much better than its politically incorrect brother, intolerance, but how did it ever become okay to simply tolerate someone else?
Tolerance obstructs acceptance. It prevents connection, Within tolerance, an unstated arrogance lurks. The tolerating person hovers over the one being tolerated and becomes the martyr instead of the friend.
Shouldn’t we expect more from one another. Settling for tolerance injures us all. It sends the message that it’s okay to put someone in a box—to judge them and leave them there. It says we don’t have to get any closer—it allows us to not invest.
Love isn’t tolerant. It’s patient and kind, and it values.
Tolerance puts up with.
Tolerance elevates one person over another.
Love fights to do what’s best for someone else.
Love sees poor behavior and stands up to it with honesty. It accepts. It connects. And it never resembles me being better than you.
We can’t change one another. But we can love each other.
Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion. A few thoughtless comments, poor word choice, and it’s not that big of a deal.
Perhaps the bigger need lies not in the questioning of tolerance, but rather in the quiet acceptance of it. Maybe that’s why it struck such a chord. My friend was hurt by the words of her boss, but she did not let them define her. She rose above it.
Can I say the same?
Do I let being ignored decide whether I act?
Does being “put up with” and not valued determine my worth?
Is what they say about me all I’ll ever be?
That’s my battle ground.
I’d like to think I’m a warrior now, but more often than not I stumble, slow my pace and hesitate. Doubts come and my courage goes. I don’t always stand up for myself or believe that I should. But I do have a hope. It lies not in my strength to fight, but rather in someone else’s.
It rests in truth.
God does not ignore us.
He values us.
What he says about us is who we really are.
He exceeds merely tolerating us and covers us with love.
He defines us. Not tolerated. Loved.