Unknown to every tiny baby there exists in this world a system of markers and outliers that separate and categorize unique individuals in nice little boxes and slots. And though we are born as a one-of-a-kind creation we spend much of our later growing up years trying to become a one-size-fits-all conglomerate mock up of all we have been told is approved and acceptable. It is not our intention to place these requirements on others; we just do it. It is not our intention to try to fit in; we just do it.
These same segregation attitudes have infiltrated the church system as well. We mark people based on what they do or do not do, what they do or do not wear, how they speak, who they hang out with, and even the material goods they own or do not own.
Would you believe that this even happens in the missionary world? Again – it is unintentional – but it does happen. For reasons I am still trying to understand it was not until this year that I have allowed myself to become close friends with other missionaries. And as I am branching out getting to know other people (and really enjoying myself doing it) I have been surprised to find these markers present. Markers like your sending organization or lack thereof, kids or no kids or how many kids, language learning style, the education of your children, long term or short term, and we have not even begun to talk about the type of ministry you do.
Intentionality breaks through the stereotypes to a place where diversity is treasured and division is diminished.
The choice to not judge, to not compartmentalize individuals, to not form prejudices is mine. Just because a certain person with a specific characteristic behaved a certain way in the past does not mean that another person with a similar characteristic is going to behave in a similar fashion. It would be contradictory if I were to assume that all people make these generalizations. Given the chance people will always surprise you.
This post is not a complaint – rather it is simply an observation of the way things are and the way that I have chosen to respond. It is a nice fringe benefit if you were challenged by these observations.