Dear Evangelical in my life,
You did it again. Maybe it was saying that you prayed that I would feel better when I said that I had a cold. Maybe it was sending me a Christmas card that was mostly Bible quotes (just in case I thought Christmas was a cultural holiday at this point that we could have in common). Maybe it was asking whether I had any Easter plans as I’m standing in front of you wearing a hijab.
Whatever it was this time, you once again made me feel really uncomfortable. And I know that wasn’t your intent. But I also know that I’ve talked to you about it before. And I know that when I did, you used your fragility as a shield, acting so heartbroken over the fact that your words might have been hurtful, when your intention was so good, that it made me feel bad for even bringing it up. But then you did it again.
It’s hurtful because it makes clear that you aren’t actually thinking about me. If you’d thought about it for ten seconds, it would have been obvious that it was inappropriate. But you were only thinking about what you wanted to say, and using me as an object to which to say it.
It’s hurtful because it makes it clear that you aren’t actually talking to me. You’re talking to the me in your head who is more like you. You’re talking to the imaginary me who you can relate to in a way that makes the real me a stranger.
It’s hurtful because on some level, you know that it’s hurtful, but you do it anyway. You dismiss my feelings by subordinating them to your feeling that what you said was fine, and well-meaning. And by doing that, you send me the message that my feelings don’t matter.
It’s hurtful because the standards set for us are so different. I have to spend our time together constantly editing myself to make sure that basic facts about my life don’t feel like an attack to you. If I step too close to the line, I get gently chided about how hard it is for you to hear that sort of thing.
Meanwhile, you get to vote for Trump. You get to feel sorry for cops and the criticism they endure when they engage in biased policing. You get to say that trans people pose a danger to children. You get to talk to me about how worried you are about “the dangers of Sharia”.
I wish that you could learn how to see things from other people’s perspective.
I wish that you could learn how to value other people’s experience of the world.
I wish that you could learn how to think beyond your culture.
I wish that you could learn how to apologize.