Tag Archives: Grace

Assumptions of Bias

During the past week watching the news and reading Facebook posts about the violence and racial tensions in this country, I was struck by the assumptions made by some who protested the loudest. One such assumption—a  statement I read more than once—was that white people are afraid of the big black man, and that’s the problem.

I would argue that this assumption contributes to the problem of racial tension and is not true because it is an over generalization. All white people cannot be lumped into one set of beliefs or viewpoints any more than all black people can. Many white people, as well as many black people, would prefer to be part of the solution.

As I pondered all of this, I was reminded of something that happened to me just a month or so ago. We were having mandatory “Implicit Bias” training at work. It’s not the first time we’ve had this training, but this time something happened that made me think about how sometimes our assumptions about implicit bias can be part of the problem. We focus on and assume bias where diversity and camaraderie might flourish if we didn’t try so hard to see the negative.

The presenter was talking about the online Harvard Implicit Bias Project tests. I’ve taken several of these tests before so I raised my hand to offer my unique experience.

“I’ve taken the race Implicit Bias test three times,” I said, “and each time it has revealed I have a strong preference for African Americans. I have no explanation for why that is because I really only know a few African Americans.”

The presenter thanked me for chiming in and started talking about how we don’t always know where these biases come from. Then she said,” That was very brave of you to admit that.”

”Wait,” I replied, “I think you misunderstood me. Why would it be brave for me to say I had a bias in favor of, strongly in favor of, blacks?”

“Oh,” she said,” you said against.”

My boss, who was sitting at the same table as me, replied,” No she didn’t, she said in favor of.”

Later I talked to several people who were on the other side of the room and they all said they clearly heard me say what I actually said. But the presenter—who spends much her time talking, thinking, and studying about implicit bias—heard what she assumed any white woman would say, that she was biased against blacks.

I share this because I think it is so important not to assume we know what others think about difficult issues like this. We have to stop making broad general assumptions about whole groups of people whose only thing in common might be the color of their skin. Human beings—and each individual human being—is so much more complex than that.

The second presenter at this training had commented at the beginning that we didn’t need to talk about religion or spirituality, because that isn’t really very important for people in Oregon. I found this comment odd because it was another inaccurate assumption. For me, my faith is very important and it is the teachings of Jesus that inform much of my belief about others. It is my understanding that we are all created in God’s image, no matter what color our skin, that helps me in dealing with and accepting those who are different from me.

D.C. Talk does a great song called Colored People that I want to end with. I’m linking to YouTube because often embedded videos don’t work on this free blog. I encourage you to follow the link and give it a listen.

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Seeking Truth

Words matter. Our choice of words, whether speaking or writing, makes a difference.

And words have meaning. That’s what dictionaries are for—to tell us what words mean. When we try to use words to mean something other than what they really mean, it causes confusion.

Sometimes people do this on purpose. One such misuse of a word that I have encountered lately is the use of the word “true” to substitute for “believe.” A person will say “such and such is true for me” when what they really mean is “I believe such and such.”

According to the dictionary, the word “true” means “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact.” Truth is not relative and is not affected by what any one person believes. Truth is external, and belief is internal, in origin.

Many years ago, when I was suffering from major clinical depression, there were a number of things I believed about myself. I believed I would always be depressed based on how long I had been depressed already and my doctor telling me I would always have bouts of major depression for the rest of my life. I also believed I would never be able to hold down a full-time job. I believed no one liked me and that I was worthless. In the parlance of relativism, these things were true for me.

But they weren’t true. They aren’t true and they never were, no matter how deeply I believed them.

And trust me, I deeply believed these things about myself.

But here I am, 18 years later, and I haven’t had a bout of major depression since God showed me how to be free. I’ve had the same good-paying full-time job for almost 12 years, and I had a different full-time job that paved the way for this one for 5 1/2 years before that. On top of my full-time job, I’m actively involved in my church and Bible Study Fellowship, have self-published two poetry books, and take care of my family. And I have a lot of friends, people who like me (and some who even love me).

As I look back over the past 20 years, I see God’s hand in my life, lifting me up and leading me to see the truth. I believe that. But it’s not my belief that makes it true. In fact, I could be dead wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

Whether God is real and cares about His creation enough to do all I believe He has for us is either true or not. It can’t be true for me and not for you, or vice versa. Truth is. As humans, our greatest purpose is to seek the truth. To say that truth is relative—that what is objectively true for me is different from what is objectively true for you—negates that essential human drive to know truth, to know our Creator, to know where we come from, and to know our reason for being.

At any rate, that’s what I believe.

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Set Free

She drove away from the pizza place
joyful in the knowledge that she had been set free.

No dark cloud appeared.

She realized she was humming along,
tapping her foot to the beat.

As she waited for her pizza to go,
Bad Company played on the radio.

One day, she stopped to get a pizza
on her way home from work.

She felt a weight lifted and joy return.

When she awoke, she knelt and prayed
for the strength to forgive.

One night she dreamed of forgiveness
and knew it was a message from God.

She pondered taking her own life
because she thought she was forever broken.

She spent years in darkness and anger.

She was never the same; whenever she heard Bad Company
a dark cloud would descend upon her.

Afterwards, he drove her home
and left her broken upon her doorstep.

Bad Company played on the radio.

He assaulted her in the front seat of his Lincoln.

He asked if she wanted to go to a party
and she said yes because he seemed nice.

_________________________________________

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a story in reverse. I couldn’t help but turn each line of this semi-autobiographical story into a verse.

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Nothin’ But the Blood – An Elfje

Crimson
Jesus’ blood
Trustworthy and true
Mercy to my soul
Salvation

_____________________________

A little elfje for NaPoWriMo Day 15, and while you’re at it check out Jars of Clay and The Blind Boys of Alabama singing Nothin’ But the Blood of Jesus.

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Celebrate Christ Is Risen

Yesterday in despair we wept
Friday last the veil was riven
Oh to know His promises kept
Celebrate that Christ has risen

Today Christ has risen indeed
Grace and mercy to us given
Because we know our deepest need
Celebrate that Christ has risen

Jesus who’s called Faithful and True
Celebrates that we’re forgiven
By His wounds we have life anew
Hallelujah Christ is risen

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Nails of Love

Jesus came to give from above
His love
On the cross mercy wins
My sins
that are told in sordid tales
were nails
no longer tip the justice scales
He surely paid the price
as soldiers rolled the dice
His love, my sins were nails

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Holy Week

On Sunday He was lauded as King
Hosanna the crowd did sing to Him

On Monday He taught in the temple square
in parables of sons and tenants and wedding feasts

On Tuesday His authority was questioned
by those clinging desperately to their own

On Wednesday He taught the greatest commandment
was love of God, and love of one’s neighbor was second

On Thursday He supped with His disciples
washed their feet and prayed His Father’s will

On Friday they crucified Him, we crucified Him
with the multitude of sins He willingly paid for

On Saturday His followers hid away afraid
grieving a loss they didn’t at all understand

On Sunday, oh sweet Sunday
He rose again, He is risen indeed

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Buried Memories

Just below the surface
Not buried all that deep
Are memories once forgotten
Now remembered so I weep

Though I know they’re past
Each painful memory
Leaves my poor soul downcast
Engulfed in reverie

My only source of hope
Is knowing God’s compassion
With His love I can cope
Remembering His passion

He knows the pain I’ve endured
That surfaces out of the blue
Grace and comfort He’s assured
And abundant life anew

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Doubting Thomas

Do you insist that you must see
the nail-scarred hands before you believe

Do you doubt the evidence before your eyes
of daily miracles, intricate life, blue skies

Then let me point to the change in me
from angry and mean to kind as can be

Once I cared only for myself
hopelessness prowled in me like a wolf

Then the hands of my Savior picked me up
He drank for me of death’s vile cup

I am evidence loud and clear
of grace and mercy that God holds dear

So if you insist nail-scarred hands you must see
look closely at the scarred heart in me

______________________________________________

I decided to write a second poem involving hands in response to the Tuesday Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, since I needed to write a Lent poem for today anyway.

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Life to the Full

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV).

Like most people, I want to live life to the full
I once believed I could find it with jewels and clothes
A JD degree and professional excellence
A big house and fancy new car
All that money could buy

Some people believe they can find fullness of life
In fame, notoriety, and accomplishments
Awards and accolades galore they adore
Physical fitness and sports prowess
Being a step above the rest

Then there are those who give up
the fight for a full life
Drown their need and deep desire in alcohol
In drugs, gambling, or sexual exploits
Seeking pleasures of the flesh

There are many ways humans seek the full life
But none satisfies as we spiral out of control

To find true fullness of life we must turn
Our thinking must be turned upside down
From what the world offers in abundance

True fullness of life, true abundance
Is found in the heart and the soul
In serving others, loving our neighbor
Giving up our last crumb of excess
To help another in greater need

The thief promises earthly riches
but robs us of peace and grace
The thief promises earthly fame
but robs us of contentment and fulfillment
The thief promises earthly happiness
but robs us of joy and leaves only numbness

But the Lord offers abundant peace and grace
Perfect contentment and joy
He offers life to the full
A heart full of love
A soul filled to the brim with grace

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