The other day, my three kids were sitting down at breakfast together. My wife and I happened to be in the next room–so we could hear them fairly well. We heard them praying for the upcoming election to be fair, honest, and free of unkind mud-slinging. They were discussing new ways they could make school a friendlier place together. And all three of them were brainstorming on how they could expand their IQs by extending their homework time each afternoon. OK, so that’s not really what happened.
As is often the case, one of the three ends up being a booger to one or both of the others. In the case of this particular morning, my 8-year-old son was [allegedly] being rude to my 6-year-old daughter. I don’t know what he said or did, but what SHE said, I heard clearly. She yelled at him, “You’re un-manners-ed!” I looked at my wife, and asked, “Did she just say he was ‘un-manners-ed’?” (I have added hyphens here because, knowing it’s not a real word yet, most people may struggle with how to read it.)
Unmannersed. I know it’s not a word, but once I heard it, it immediately made sense to me.. It’s the world we live in. People seem to constantly be unmannerseding upon one another. Impatiently honking. Eye-rolling. Huffin’ and puffin’ while waiting for everyone else ahead of them in the deli. The guy before you doesn’t clean up the space that everyone uses–just leaving it for the next person. Parents rudely hollering at their kids’ refs and umpires. The ongoing normalization of curse words nowadays. Long stares of impatience or infuriation in parking lots when we don’t get our spot or get out fast enough. In the past 12 months, I’ve had a guy on a bike threaten to beat me up because he was tragically confused about something I did while driving. And if that’s not enough unmannersed for a year, our garbageman give me the double bird because…wait for it…as a paying customer, I had the audacity to put trash out to be collected. (If you don’t know what “the double bird” is, consider yourself properly and fortunately sheltered. For the purposes of this article, it’s something that’s highly unmannersed.) There’s a lot of unmannersed going on out there.
Why are everyone’s screws a few turns too tight?
How can we contend personally and collectively with all this unmannersedishness? Well, it’s more than just conjuring up more politeness. There’s a reason that the word polite emerges from the same rooting as we get the word politics. Being polite is often our feeling the need to be political. (Being nice or flattering to someone for some ulterior motive. Quid pro quo.) No, we definitely don’t need more politicians among us. We don’t need more politeness or mandatory sessions for all at Miss Polly’s Finishing School.
What we need is a God-infused community.
Friends, a community that has God in it isn’t worried about muscling out their best manners because they are manifesting something better. Paul the Apostle says that when someone has chosen to invite God’s Spirit into their life through choosing Jesus as their Living Savior and Leading Example, something more meaningful than politeness takes root. He says that we’ll experience and exhibit “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–nlt). That’s so much greater and more virtuous and eternal than merely being mannersedish!