Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Do you even know them?

I often wonder when I hear people throw out stereotypical statements if they even know someone that really fits that stereotype. And by know I mean KNOW.

We all say things that are stereotypical. I hate it when I do it, but I do say things. And I'm trying to start noticing when I do because I want to cut them from my speech. There is no place for a stereotype. I can't think of an example when a stereotype is really a good thing and I'm quite sure I don't know the magnitude of my foolish statements and the damage they have done to others and to my own heart.

I think most of our stereotypes are based on fictional characters. Maybe someone we saw on the news. Maybe someone we "heard" about from a friend. Maybe an old wives tale that's been going around for hundreds of years. Maybe something we actually think, but have no proof of knowing. But these fictional characters who we are forming our stereotypes about actually determine how we treat real people.

I want to list some stereotypes that I have heard or maybe even thought or shamefully might have even said. Do you recognize any of these?
  1. To the overweight woman at an all you can eat buffet-"Clearly she eats here too often"
  2. To the black man walking down the street-"Lock your doors. He's probably a robber or a thug".
  3. To the mom in the grocery store with lots of kids-"She needs to have her tubes tied".
  4. To welfare recipients-"They just sit around all day and avoid work and take their free check"
  5. To Spanish speakers-"You shouldn't live in a country if you aren't willing to speak the native language"
  6. To the foster child-"He will grow up and burn down the house and stab all the people in it"
  7. To the rich girl-"She's so spoiled and greedy"
  8. To the special needs child-"Poor thing. No one should have to live that way"
  9. To the Taco Bell worker-"No wonder they work at Taco Bell. Stupid!"
The list could go on and on and on. Sadly the list does go on and on and on. It has gone on for centuries. I have a new opinion about stereotypes and I wonder if you will agree with it. I think Satan uses stereotypes to keep us from fulfilling the commandment of "loving our neighbor".

Seriously! If we can write off the overweight woman as JUST a fat woman, then we don't have to treat her nicely and we can secretly gorge ourselves at Cici's without any guilt because we're not as fat as her.

If we can live in fear of the black man walking down the street then we will never try to attempt a relationship with him when we see him walk past our house and we will further distance ourselves from everyone in his race because we fear him.

If we can judge the mom with all the kids at Wal-Mart then we most certainly won't offer to buy her groceries or offer to help her when one kid runs off disobediently because we know in our hearts, "She asked for this by having so many and she should get her tubes tied so these kinds of things don't happen". And we certainly won't shed one tear when we hear that her next baby was aborted because she couldn't handle another child.

If we continue to judge our neighbor then it is very easy to not love our neighbor. Do you think that Satan likes these little stereotypes that we hold so dear? I do. I think he knows that they keep us in our own little circles of people and that once we are trapped in our own little circles we can easily start to feel like we are better than anyone who isn't in our little circle.

Pick one stereotype that you say most often. Now ask yourself, "Do I know someone, personally know and love someone, who fits this stereotype?" I would bet my life savings, which is very little, that you don't. Let's take the foster kid example. Do you know, actually personally know a child that was in or is in foster care that has burned down their family's house? You might be saying, "Well, I heard about one on the news or from my Aunt Sally". You DO NOT KNOW A FOSTER KID WHO HAS BURNED DOWN A HOUSE!!! But these types of statements keep people from doing foster care.

Do you know someone who receives a welfare check? Do you know that they sit around and watch tv all day doing nothing and then go out and spend their enormous check at Dillards? YOU DO NOT KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS ON WELFARE!!!!

Our stereotypes keep us chained up to people like us and they keep us chained up to judgement. We see someone who fits the mold of one of our stereotypes and we assume we already know them.
  • Homeschooler
  • BMW owner
  • Medicaid
  • Alcoholic
  • Teen Mom
  • Gay
  • Drug Addict
  • Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, etc.
  • Christian
  • Muslim
  • etc. etc. etc. etc.
As a Christian I am commanded to love and I am also commanded not.to.judge. As a Christian I would never ever murder. I would never ever commit adultery. I would never ever do a whole lot of things. Then why am I so comfortable with judging others? Didn't Christ say not to do that, too.

These thoughts have been haunting me lately. My life and my journey as a foster mom has graciously been exposing me to new people and through that I'm beginning to see that my stereotypes are a sin. My Jesus loves. I am to love, too.

Drop the stereotypes. Recognize when you have a thought that is stereotypical and beat it out of your mind. Love others. Hate sin.

And just for future reference do not come to me or post statements on facebook about anything stereotypical or I'm going to call you out! And I sincerely hope you call me out if you hear anything come out of my mouth. We've got to do better, friends.


Moe said...

You. Are. Amazing. This is a lot of food for thought, you are so right. Thanks for this today, sweet Maile. I am amazed at the open-ness (sp?) you have to all children and people you have welcomed into your life. God bless you!

Wendy Davis said...

Excellent post. definitely a good reminder for me. To judge others or to put them in a stereotypical box...which limits the potential for beautiful friendships and amazing ministry opportunities. Thankful for your friendship and wisdom!