Willing To Be Wrong

Are You Willing To Be Wrong?

In my quest to contemplate in 2021 (Your Word For 2021), I stepped out of my comfort zone.  I contemplated the possibility that my beliefs could be wrong.  Admitting to being wrong requires humility.

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4)

You might argue that my experience was wrong, but you can’t say it didn’t happen.  It was real.  And, I believe, it was good.  Maybe not exactly fair, but I learned early that life isn’t fair.

You know I’ve been quiet about beliefs other than Christianity.  I don’t share my political views or chosen type of religion.  (Sometimes I want to discuss horrifying political rhetoric, but that could get out of hand!)

In today’s explanation for contemplation, I must bring things to a more “public” level.  I don’t want to start a firestorm.  It is my experience, and you may disagree with it.  And, that’s fine with me.  We can talk about it.

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:9)

That’s the beauty of a free country.  We can disagree, discuss things rationally and honestly.  At the end, we can agree, and if needed, agree to disagree.  Live and let live.  That’s how I was raised.

You can respect the person and their opinion, even when you don’t agree with their opinion.
(Thanks, Mom and Dad.  That has served me well.)

At eight years old, we moved from Chicago to an Atlanta suburb.  Talk about a tough season!  My brothers got spankings (aka paddlings, their first ever) with a wooden paddle the first week of school.

And, I was petrified of my teacher.  The elder grey haired teacher clearly didn’t like little yankees.  Pardon the term, but that’s what we were (in their eyes, well her eyes anyway).

My southern third-grade teacher didn’t know I was born in the south.  I was one of her kind, and she didn’t even know it!  I picked up the northern accent when my father got a job in Chicago and moved our family there.  That teacher, as mean as she was, taught me to see that her kind wasn’t my kind.

Mean teacher and I were both southerners, but she was prejudiced.  Against me.  I never saw her prejudice against another student.  Only me.  It was probably there, but I didn’t see it.  I only felt my own mistreatment and didn’t understand it.  Perhaps that’s the root of racism – a blindness to the natural human experience, the unfairness of life we feel, even when those of other colors and races experience the same things.

Years later, I could finally describe it with words.  Feelings of fear and confusion and shame.  I don’t know if she treated my classmate, Jackie, in the same way she treated me.  I hope not!  But it could be.  She was a real meanie, that teacher.

Prejudiced-me would call her that mean, old bitty teacher.  (There probably was prejudice against my southern drawl when we first moved to Chicago, too.  I was too young, at four, to notice such things.  That disappeared as I took on the little yankee accent.  Wink.)

Back to the story.

This little yankee saw one lone black girl in school, Jackie Hopkins.  I will never forget her.  I don’t remember if I had black classmates in Chicago.  Probably not.  Schools may have been segregated then.  When we moved back to the south, schools were integrated. Segregation.  Integration.  New words for me at eight years old.  More that I didn’t understand.

I remember that Jackie stood out in the sea of white.  She was always smiling.  Everyone loved Jackie.  Jackie seemed happy, and I considered her my friend.

I was encouraged by my parents to love Jackie, just as I should love everyone. It appeared that everyone had the same attitude towards Jackie. We all liked her, for real!  Not because we “should” but because she was friendly. That view doesn’t fit the narrative of today, but my experience of the south has not been with racist brothers and sisters.  At all.

In her lone-ness of being the only black girl, Jackie and I shared the lone-ness of different types. Mine was the label yankee. The lone little yankee.

The following school grade was better.  My fourth grade teacher was nicer.  (And maybe a little less yankie-phobic or my southern drawl was returning? Ha!)  I can laugh about it now, but as a child, I was confused.  (As an Enneagram Four, I was always confused.  I never measured up and felt deficient, lacking what others had in some way.  Not lacking possessions but abilities.  I was a slow reader.)

While living, supposedly, in a black suppressive South, I was taught to love all people.  All colors.  All races.

Honestly, I did far better with the loving all colors part.  Loving all races was harder to embrace in my heart.  There.  Honesty.  Couldn’t we all use more of that?

I believe it’s because I don’t understand other cultures as much as those I grew up knowing.  I remember a set of twin Chinese girls in one of my college courses.  They were brilliant!  I was slightly envious of their grades but frankly and openly admit that my study habits lacked the commitment level of the twins.

As image bearers of God, we are to follow the example He showed through Jesus.

For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11)

These girls were very sweet!  They talked about China and why they came to the U.S. to study.  It appeared to me that they were part of the “Chinese chosen” to be successful.  Chosen by their government.  Their communistic regime decided to force certain scholastic standards on certain citizens.

The Chinese twins intrigued me.  They impressed me.  With no real commonality, I didn’t try to develop a deeper friendship.  They had each other.  I had my freedom.  After graduation, they were to return to China, to serve their government (whatever that meant).

In our country of respected diversity, I knew these girls would be fine.  Even at a great distance, their communistic government “took care of them”.

Willing To Be Wrong
Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

I respected the twins and their scholastic aptitude.  It clearly came with a trade-off.  They had no freedom.  They performed by force.  I performed (or did not) by choice.  I had freedom.  So, I felt slightly sorry for them.

For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11) Click To Tweet

As for contemplating any wrong actions on my part, I listened to podcasts, read blog posts, viewed interviews, etc. of others (mostly black) stating their racial experience.  While I don’t understand the systemic racism exactly (because that’s not my experience), I can live and let live.

I can say what I’m thinking when I want to encourage someone for doing a good job.  No matter their race or color.  People who know me may not say I’m shy.  Because they know me, I talk.  I am shy in a group, though.  I’m bashful with people I don’t know (and even some I do know).

I clamp my mouth shut before I expose my ignorance.  You know the old saying.  You know of what I’m speaking, about proving my ignorance with my words.  Better to not open my mouth and reveal it!

In life, no matter the race or color, we all have to work hard.  I learned.  We all have barriers.  It’s called lifeLittle yankee, you will move on.  The next teacher did the right thing.  They weren’t all against little yankees, just that one.  They aren’t all against this color or that race.  Just that one.

Oh, and back to my listening to other views.  It became clear that the others (my apposers) were less interested in contemplating the other side from their own views.  I am willing to embrace their side (agree to disagree and attempt to understand more fully), but they are not willing.  Even those on a site touting for being “contemplative”, they were clearly not listening to anyone else or trying to learn another viewpoint.  Only their own rhetoric.  Blinded by their own slant.

Even sometimes when like-minded in faith, we sadly divide.

I prayed for them – and for my openness to God’s truth.  Isn’t that the best thing to do?  No yelling and screaming at them.  Just pray.  God heals all, in His timing.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

With the goal of growing the Kingdom of God, it all comes down to Jesus.  Jesus did not see color.  Or race.  Or age.  Or southern drawl.  Or little yankee (wink).  Only love.

Can we love, you and I?  Can we contemplate things in a balanced way?  Can we talk about this rationally, honestly, and lovingly?

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow~

I’m joining Lisa at Lisanotes.com for the January 2021 One Word  link-up and Grace & Truth Friday link-up.  Join me there.  🙂

 

Hi and welcome! It's wonderful to have fellow "embracers" during some pretty tough seasons - and some triumphant ones, too. I invite you to enroll to receive my blog posts by email so you don't miss what's coming next.

28 Comments

  • Lisa notes

    Um, have you been reading my mind? “I contemplated the possibility that my beliefs could be wrong. Admitting to being wrong requires humility.” I’m gearing up to write a series on bias for February, and my first attempt at a title for the series was: “Am I wrong? Or are you?” I’ve since altered it a little, but the thought remains.

    I love this post. But I’m so sorry you were discriminated against. 🙁 As a Southerner myself, I can back up what you’re saying: at least in many circles, there was a bias against “Yankees.” And a “yankee” accent was a sure give-away. Isn’t it crazy? Sigh. I was probably more aware of the Yankee-Southern divide than the Black-white divide when I was younger. I sometimes wish I could go back in time to peek into the prejudicial thoughts and behaviors that I witnessed and participated in, and then change them all! I wasn’t aware of the discrimination that was going on based on color, race, culture, etc.

    I’ve spent the past several years trying to see more clearly and understand life from different perspectives. Thankfully my parents and my faith gave me the foundation similar to yours that God shows no partiality and neither should we. But we’re often blinded anyway. I don’t want to be blind anymore and cause unconscious harm to my brothers and sisters.

    • Kim

      Thanks for the discussion about this, Lisa. I believe we all, no matter what “side” we are on, need to dig deeply enough to find the real truth. Not just what other people say, but look at all facts of the matter.

      I got over the yankee stuff years ago and laugh about it now. It was a good life lesson, for sure! I don’t let it skew my attitude with anyone. I try to give the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise. The most miserable place to be in life is to be stuck in a mode of hatred. We must remember that God loves everyone. Every single human. Especially the sinners. Guess what? We all qualify! Hugs! 🙂

  • Linda Stoll

    Kim, hi! It’s so good to meet you today. This I love –> ‘That’s the beauty of a free country. We can disagree, discuss things rationally and honestly. At the end, we can agree, and if needed, agree to disagree.’

    I yearn for a free exchange of ideas spoken in an atmosphere of respect, dignity, and kindness. I reject labels, name calling, and any kind of violence, most especially by those who name the name of Christ.

    I’d love for this to happen in the here and now. But we might have to wait ’til we reach heaven’s shores …

    • Kim

      You may be right, Linda. Like you, I wish it could be now – again like in former times. Praise God, we will surely have it in heaven! It’s great to meet you, too, sister. 🙂

  • Mary Rooney Armand

    Kim,
    I just love this..so honest, thought-provoking, and real. When we read and are compelled to think and change it is worth our time. Thank you for doing both of these for me this morning! Love your stories.

  • Donna

    Kim, I so appreciate your post and stance. I, too, suffered discrimination as one of the few whites in my schools among blacks. A slightly different slant than we hear today. But I was raised like you, and my mom always encouraged me to forgive those who did not accept me and show kindness to all people. I’m still mostly drawn to the marginalized, whether that be race, economic position, women or children. As a Court appointed special advocate (CASA) I am exposed to all kinds of prejudice in homes, schools and even the court system while advocating for my “kids”. YES, we all need open hearts before God, so He can open our eyes to biases and “pet” mindsets that are sinful. I want to continue to learn to contemplate things in a balanced way! I love this update on your One Word-I am likewise in the group, enjoying the interaction!

  • Astrid

    Great post! Oh, I’m so glad you were raised and later learned to love and respect people regardless of race or color and are now admitting your views might be wrong. I was raised in an atheist, socialist family that was pretty insensitive towards those who had different views, especially Christians and conservatives but also to an extent other groups. They were kind to those of other races and colors, but differing political/religious views weren’t really respected. I think this respect for diversity is a true blessing from God. I am a Christian now and this has helped me extend my love to others irrespective of cultural background too. I am not nearly perfect (I know next to nothing about systemic racism, being white myself), but I do love others as God loves me. Visiting from Grace and Truth.

  • Maree Dee

    Oh, Kim, it has been so confusing lately. I have found those I have admired and respected, I no longer agree with and I wonder what am I not seeing. Where have I gone wrong in my thinking?

    I want to be able to agree to disagree with others. And yet everyone is attacking and it is scary.

    Bias is real, and I see even when don’t want to admit it – I do have some bias present in my life.

    Lots of prayers and love is exactly what we all need.

    Blessings,

    Maree

  • Heather

    Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry you were discriminated against. There are so many people who feel discriminated, but never bring it up. I wish we could discuss topics calmly and agree to disagree, if needed.

    • Kim

      Thank you, Heather. I don’t feel a “victim” and rarely think of it anymore. It’s simply part of living, part of the human experience. It’s great to hear from you. Hugs!

  • Maree Dee

    Kim – Thank you for starting a difficult topic. Although I am sorry you were discriminated against by your teacher, it has given you a unique perspective. Thank you for not letting it go to waste. Your article was the most popular post in January on Grace & Truth Link-Up. I will be featuring it tomorrow on my website for Grace & Truth Link-Up. Maree

    • Kim

      Thank you, Maree! I’ve been out of touch for a while. So sorry I didn’t make it to the link-up, and I was even featured! When dealing with illnesses, things we’d love to do in life must take a backseat to self-care and “slowing down’. I look forward to “seeing” you again soon! 🙂

  • Alice Walters

    Hey, Kim! Thanks for your candor. In 60+ years, I’ve lived north and south of the Mason-Dixon line and now reside in a border state. I have learned that bias can only live in small- minded, small-hearted people of any outward appearance, even within the church sadly. I spent years angered by the bias focused against me. Then the Lord thought I was worth the battle and plunged this south Georgia gal straight into a Midwestern urban alternative school…and I will always be thankful He did! There is where He really began to open my small mind and heart to seeking to live a life of grace, both giving and receiving. I no longer settled for the box others had tried to build around me. Blessings on your continued journey of contemplation!

    • Kim

      Thank you, Alice. I agree with the small-mindedness. When our hearts are tuned in to the Lord, He expands our heart and fills us with all the love and grace we need for others we encounter. It’s so nice to meet you! 🙂

  • Theresa Boedeker

    This caught my eye, “I never saw her prejudice against another student. Only me. It was probably there, but I didn’t see it. I only felt my own mistreatment and didn’t understand it. Perhaps that’s the root of racism – a blindness to the natural human experience, the unfairness of life we feel, even when those of other colors and races experience the same things.” As children we often only see our side. We need to gain more experiences, see more of life, and learn to re- interpret what we experienced and saw. As well as develop a curiosity to know more about others and also have compassion and empathy. It seems we spend the rest of our adult lives correcting all the ways we unconsciously and consciously saw things through the wrong lens. But it all takes humility. Thanks for sharing your story. That helps us to see our own areas where we are wrong and encourage one another to retell the stories and opinions we hold deep inside.

    • Kim

      Thank you, Theresa. Sharing events in our lives is much like sharing Jesus with others. When approached from a personal story of what we experienced (with Him and in life), our words are more relatable and understandable. Much better than “preaching” with a pointed finger at others. Thank you for sharing your perspective, as well. It’s great to meet you, sister! 🙂

  • Maryleigh

    “You can respect the person and their opinion, even when you don’t agree with their opinion.” – Such a cornerstone to our freedoms! I never could fathom teachers who wouldn’t try to love all their students – they sure leave an impact, one they probably never realized. In our household, as a parent, I drew barriers around behavior – skin color, culture – none of that matters. It’s behavior that matters. That’s how you chose friends! Thank you for your honesty and the beautiful grace in a challenging topic.

    • Kim

      Thank you, Maryleigh. I had many teachers who showed the love you describe, and they left a greater impact on me than the negative incident. I’m thankful for those type of teachers. It’s nice to meet you and others who teach (taught) our children to love all, regardless of race, color, age, etc. Hugs, new friend! 🙂

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