Sometimes I think about Heaven. And when I do this, I imagine all the people I’ll see. I get excited that I’ll get to see Jesus and the Apostle Paul and Moses. I think about my family being in heaven and all these people I get to interact with. It’s interesting what you can imagine about something you have never seen. You can make it anything you want…. And you know what? Everyone I picture is white.
Right now I’m crossing a boundary of very uncomfortable conversation. Please don’t back out on me.
Last Sunday, our pastor at church crossed this boundary and it opened my eyes. He encouraged us to keep talking about this issue because it’s important. I thought about what it looked like for me to confess my prejudice mindset and the only way I could do that and be completely honest with myself and the world was writing it down.
I’d like to give a little background of my upbringing. I was raised in a family who welcomed anyone into our home. It did not matter if you were black, white, latino, rich, poor, handicapped, gay, straight, what ever. My parents are some of the most hospitable, welcoming people I’ve ever met. I went to school, all 13 years, in the inner-city schools. They were very diverse. When I decided to go to college, I picked Intercultural studies as my major, and my roommate was black. I now have 3 black cousins. I love people and I always denied any sort of prejudice in my heart, until Sunday.
Our Pastor, Todd, asked a question for himself at the beginning of service.
“Do I have any sort of prejudice in my heart?”
I could feel my stomach start to get tight. These were, again, boundaries that white christians should probably just not mess with. Any time this was brought up to me in the past I would throw ou
t something about my upbringing (which I listed above) and simply state that I am called to love people. Classic get-away-from-the-subject line, huh? But as I was sitting there I searched deeper into myself and, of course trying to practice authenticity, pulled out what really went through my mind about some of these issues.
I don’t think it’s wrong to admit you have prejudice thoughts. You know what I think IS wrong? It’s letting that fester in your body, not admitting that you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness from those you hurt. You know what’s hurting us as a society? The prideful mindset that denies any sort of wrong doing and “claims” that we love everybody. No, I have never made an outspoken comment to someone about their race, but have I thought about something that could’ve hurt a person’s feelings if I did say it? Yes, I have. Admitting this is really hard and uncomfortable. But if I don’t admit this and lie that I make mistakes, that’s doing just as much damage. You see, when we lie about this and keep this inside, the issue is never dealt with. We learn nothing when we keep quiet and pretend.
This isn’t just about race. I actually don’t think it’s about race ever, or about gay people, or gender, or income. The issue is pride. Think about a prejudice thought you’ve had before? You looked at that homeless guy and thought, “Wow, what a lazy person. He needs to get his life together.” Was that thought really because you hated that guy? How can you hate someone you don’t even know. Most of the time these thoughts are because we put ourselves above someone else.
Of course we can’t lump every issue together and assume that everyone wants to help the greater good. There are some people that have hate in their hearts and hurt people on purpose. I pray that these people can have a change of heart and seek grace from God and others for the hurt they have caused people. But the same is true in the opposite way. Not every person who thinks a prejudice thought hates people.
Now in no means am I trying to say that it is okay to be prejudice against someone. This is never okay. We can learn from our history as a country and from the Bible that this is not alright. Todd, our pastor, brought up a great point: many times Jesus broke down the walls of race, gender & the class system. And Jesus himself was a middle eastern man!
So what is the point of all this? A lot of times we talk about this issue and Christians want to put everything in a big snuggly love coating and act like as long as we say we “love” everybody that solves the problem. Now as much as I want that to be true, saying you “love” someone doesn’t really mean crap if you don’t act it out and acting it out isn’t being scared to confront it. So what example do we have of the truest act of love? Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins and now God shows us grace and mercy. We ask for forgiveness and fully accept the grace that God has given us and love is shown! So here’s the deal guys, I am prejudice sometimes! Sometimes I judge people before I know their situation or who they are! I AM WRONG IN DOING THIS! And I need to ask for forgiveness and try to understand where these people are coming from. I need to seek out ways where I am ignorant, so that I can get rid of this prideful mindset. And those who are hurt need to show mercy, just as Christ has.
Love talks. Love confronts. Love helps understand. Love isn’t quick to get angry. Love shows mercy.
I asked my roommate Morgan to read this and tell me what she thought about it. The truth of the matter is, I will never know what it’s like to not be white, and I will most likely never experience the prejudice battles that people like Morgan do. I thought that getting an opinion from her would be a great point of view. She sent me this:
“If we’re gonna be raw about it, I sin daily. We all do. That doesn’t make me more or less of a person & neither does being prejudice as long as I realize my wrong doings and make it right between the Lord & I.
I guess it kind of ties into the quote “watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions”
As a whole: Prejudices can break us down, but forgiveness can build us back up.”