A popular blogger was kindly chastised the other day for not using people-first language. She’d referred to her friend’s cute baby as a Down’s baby (as opposed to a child with Down’s Syndrome,) and her comment section lit up. People-first language, please, was the gist of it. My initial thoughts, I confess, were along the lines of, Oh, great. More political correctness to stumble over. More silly this-is-how-we-say-it-now. But after a moment’s consideration I realized, of course.
People-first language, please?
Of course. Yes.
Because people are always people, first.
I’m conscious of it, now. I’m more deliberate in my thinking about you. I try to consider people in a people-first way. I’m more intentional about looking past the easy, first-glance descriptors, past the first impressions. I’m exercising my Jesus-eyes, those eyes that look deep into hearts and souls. So …
The checkout girl at the grocery store is, instead, the woman who woke up early and went to work to earn her dollars by helping me pay for and pack my family’s food, so I sincerely thank her and wish her a good morning.
The homeless man wandering the downtown streets is, instead, the man who, for reasons unknown to me, does not have a place to live, and so I look at him and smile right into his face as I walk by.
The bratty kid in the park is, instead, the child who is having a hard time making friends, so I put a hand on his shoulder when I ask him not to push and I smile at his momma.
I’m trying so hard to negate all those years of first-impression eyesight. I’m trying hard to not see you as the snobby woman or the crippled guy or the blonde girl or the disrespectful teenager or the needy friend. I’m even trying to go beyond seeing you as a perfect mom or the smart girl or the lucky one, because that’s not fair or accurate, either.
I’m trying to be kinder to myself, too. I’m trying to see myself as a person, first. I am trying to look into my own soul and my own heart, and to see what He sees when He calls me Beloved, to see myself as a girl who is smart and beautiful, as a woman who loves to laugh and enjoys a good story and takes courage and tries her best.
We are people first, friends. All of us.