When you first look outside on a frosty morning, everything looks like it’s blanketed in a soft, downy white! But look a little closer, and you’ll actually see crystal formations sticking out from the edges of leaves and blades of grass. Crystals don’t quite fit into the category of soft and fuzzy, do they? Have you ever taken the time to really look at frost, and see its beauty up close? I haven’t been able to do it justice with my phone, but I’m going to keep trying. It’s amazing!
As humans, we have a way of categorizing things and people, often before we really know what category we should put them in. We don’t want to go to the trouble of learning about them or getting to know them, we just want to put them in the “right” box so that we can use the prescribed expectations, attitudes and judgments that are assigned to whatever or whoever is in that box. To put it bluntly, we’re lazy. Then to top it all off, we’re surprised (and perhaps even offended) when others do the same to us!
No matter what our reason for being quick to judge others, if we stay the course we’ll continue missing out on fascinating discoveries.
Here’s an example. A little while ago, I was in line at the grocery store. The woman behind me put a tube of fresh dog food on the belt to ring out. I don’t know how it is where you live, but around here fresh dog food doesn’t fit in my budget. Our dog gets dry food with a bite of canned morsels, and considers herself a lucky beast! I could have immediately judged this woman for having more money than she knows what to do with. But instead, I asked about her dog and found out that she’s small, old and finicky (which means that tube of fresh food would last for days and days). We chatted about our dogs all the way out into the parking lot, and I learned that her sister has the same breed of dog that we do, with the same disposition. That now makes three Cunucu dogs that I know of, including my own, that are all scaredy cats! I never would have gotten that tidbit if I had not been willing to ask this woman about her dog because I put her in the “too-high-and-mighty rich box.” And besides, she was a pleasant lady, and our chat made my shopping trip much more enjoyable!
What kind of category boxes do you have in your head?
- If I ask you about people who intimidate or scare you, is there a certain demographic that comes to mind?
- What about people you think look down on you?
- Or people you don’t think are worth your time?
- Have you written off everyone who belongs to a different political party?
If there are certain people you refuse to associate with because you’ve put them in a particular box, you’re really missing out.
- Only associating with people who are similar to us, with similar views and ideas feeds our “us” and “them” mentality. We think ours is the only way to think, and anyone who can’t see that is an imbecile! And so pride strikes again. Since when do we have all the answers? We don’t! “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10 NLT) “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
- We miss out on important discussions because we’re not even willing to listen to any other viewpoint. We’re losing the skill of polite discourse. Again, it’s the lazy way out, because listening to and considering another angle takes effort. Don’t be too quick to turn your back on dissenters! “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Either you will have to change your stance, or you will be able to see your view more clearly.
- When we refuse to associate with people of a different ethnicity, economic level, or social group, we miss out on opportunities to discover how much we’re truly alike. There are more things that we have in common than things we don’t! We all have hopes and dreams, mistakes and mishaps, celebrations and mourning. We all have the same 24 hours each day that God gives us. We all have memories we want to hold onto forever, while there are others we wish we could forget. But the most important thing to consider is how important each person is in God’s eyes. He cares about each one . . . shouldn’t we? “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26)
Be willing to get to know someone new this week that you wouldn’t have considered before! Don’t let first impressions fool you into missing out . . .