Monday, July 15, 2013

One Way We Discriminate


{A baby shower.}

I've spent a lot of time over the past year or so thinking about the things that separate people. You don't need me to tell you that racism is still rampant. It is complex and weighty and disgusting. But my recent experience tells me that class discrimination is kicking every bit as hard.

I can't pretend to even know the half of it, but I can tell you that it doesn't matter what color your skin is, if you show up wearing house slippers at an office staffed with middle class people, there's a good possibility that you'll be flicked away like a pesky house fly, not trusted with important information about your own life or the lives of your children, not given the time of day. If you want our genuine help, our full attention and all of our available resources, bring someone along who looks, acts, talks like us. We'll speak to her.

Maybe you're not wearing your fuzzy flippers. But you have that look. You speak in patterns that we frown upon. You have a tattoo on your neck. Your teeth didn't get an A+ at the dentist six months back. You smell like cigarettes. Your clothes are faded and don't match. You show too much cleavage. You don't make eye contact. You're fidgety.

We can pick you out of a crowd in two seconds flat and we disagree with the way you live, even though we don't know a single thing about it. You make us uncomfortable. You make us feel haughty and above-the-fray, like maybe we don't have it all together, but it could be worse.

So instead of simplifying, we talk down. We confuse you on purpose, just a little reminder that we know more. Maybe we look you square in the eye, but probably not. We're here to teach you a lesson, to impart our wisdom into your dysfunctional life. Our generic smile turns down a little at the corners. We might roll our eyes, but who can really blame us? And who cares if you see? What are you possibly going to do about it?

We want to shame you into improving, but don't ask us how you should go about improving because it isn't our problem.

All we're saying is, we'd like you to make better choices. We want you to stop wasting our tax dollars on Dr. Pepper. We don't like it that you buy your kids so much junk food. Haven't you heard of carrots or cold pressed apple juice?

You could tell us that it's hard to get the grocery store, or anywhere beyond walking distance, but that will only confuse and further annoy us. Who chooses not to drive? What kind of person does that? Well, I guess if it matters enough, you'll walk. It's all about priorities anyway and besides (we remind you gently, in love) you've got all the time in the world to walk. It's not like you have a job. (Plus, hello, you could use the exercise.)

So really, get a job already. We don't care that you're a single mom with four little kids. We don't care that all the fathers are in jail. In fact, that only fuels our wrath. It's one more shovelful of judgment, and it's coming your way. I know your cousin said she would take you if you pay her gas money, but she's even more irresponsible than you are, so that's not going to work. Suck it up and pay for public transportation. I have no idea how far away the bus stops are. Not my problem. Print a map off your computer. Look it up on your GPS. Whatever.

While you're at it, find a babysitter, but it had better be someone trust-worthy, someone very different from you. You have someone offering to do it for free? Not good enough. We question their motives and their mental and social aptitude. You'll have to pay someone if you want the job done right. Might be tight on your $8.50/hour wage. You got yourself into this mess.

Look, we're middle-classers here. We're not stupid enough to say all of this out loud, to your face, but we know you hear our message in the tone of our voice and the way we look at you like you've just been sent to the Principal's office. Or at least we hope you hear us.

But we're good Christian people, honest. We vote Pro-Life and give boxes of Pasta-Roni to the food bank at church. It's not that we don't love you, we do. We're just frustrated with you, that's all.

We just wish you'd try a little harder to be like us.


108 comments:

  1. This is convicting, Shannan. As much as I want to say I am not guilty of this, I am. Lord, have mercy and make my heart more like Yours.

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  2. No easy answers here. A lot to ponder. Cause I'm working full-time to help the kids of these moms, and sometimes it's hard NOT to judge their choices, when I see how they affect the innocent. However, no one ever changes because they are convicted through judgement, they desire to mature and to follow Christ because of love. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, and reminder for me, to love.

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    1. It helps me to remember that these adults WERE the innocent. They are often (usually) living the life that was modeled to them. It makes it easier to give them grace. But it's also terrifying to look at the faces of their little ones and imagine THEIR futures. Thanks for the comment, friend.

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  3. Shannan - its so true - its me - all the time even when I know better.

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  4. I just love your heart. If only all of us would be so willing to open our eyes to the MULTIPLE ways that we discriminate in our daily lives.

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  5. Love this so much. I wish everyone would read this.

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  6. PREACH! Love it all. Have you read The Casual Vacancy? It's a commentary on classism but it's very....uh...adult. Which scandalized me considering this is the gal who wrote the cuteness that is Harry Potter, but I got over it :) it's gooood stuff, but what you wrote? Even better

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  7. Every time I go to Wal-Mart late at night, I have to pray about my attitude towards all the other people there. It is only recently that I have realized that they have really different choices than I do. Their child has to come with them at 10 pm to grocery shop, because there is not another option. It is heartbreaking to watch, really. And, my heart breaks at the ways that I want to make it all go away and be easy and neat. But it is not. Not even a little bit. Thanks for summing it all up so pointedly. It's all true.

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  8. Preach it sister! That was spot on...

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  9. Wow. This hurts because it's true. Thank you for the healthy dose of conviction tonight.

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    1. Yes, I have done this too. I have been taking deep breaths when ever I start feeling that feeling of judgment entering me.

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  10. I'm sharing this because it is spot on. Thank you.

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  11. I can't handle the eye roll...no way, no how... I don't do it, can't stand to see it... I have missed my late night reading..
    ~g~

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  12. So very true.

    My personal fave is a family member who is an expert on everything- my other fave are hardcore Pro Lifers who don't want to lift a finger or help pay or provide for the many children born into poverty- and actually vote against and are enraged by programs that would/do help.

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    1. All you have to do is walk into my school, and you see exactly that. It breaks my heart!

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    2. Maybe you caught the fact that I'm weary of the Pro-Lifers who act as though "life" ends after birth. They have no obligation to the lives they take to the streets and "fight" for. Preach, Tiny.

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    3. That's exactly it. They seem obsessed with the baby in utero and then .... Nothing.

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    4. something about this bothers me... i don't know what. maybe it's all the compassion we're having for the people who have made wrong choices, whether it's through circumstances, upbringing, or bad examples. our hearts are to go out to them and help them, and i completely agree. but how can you possibly criticize anyone who stands against the horror that is abortion? the door swings both ways... you cannot love on one group and then stand back and criticize the other. where's the love? when i was young, my mom was active in pro-life groups, taking collect calls from girls, volunteering us occasional weekends as a family at a house for unwed pregnant teens. now she IS on the "other side" of the birth, volunteering as a CASA to be a child's voice in court. She sees a need and she fills it, just like you. Maybe these pro-lifers should be weighed on a case-by-case basis, just like the victims of class discrimination?

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  13. So incredibly, incredibly well-written. One truth just flows - unashamedly - to the next. And what's the next guilty secret? What do we middle classers aspire to? We're the less than to someone else's more than. And some of them look at us with disdain too or live ever so slightly like a have, lording it over a have not. It's a social pecking order. And I don't know what's worse, honestly. The pecking or the invisibility. We don't have to look at or feel for or do anything about the people (and their children) we do not see. So very well done Shannan.

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    1. "We don't have to look at or feel for or do anything about the people (and their children) we do not see." YES. It hurts so much more when you know them as friends. You can't NOT act at that point.

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  14. You make some very good points. There are all kinds of truth here, classism is part of the human condition that we have to find a way to overcome. Do I suffer from these attitudes? Yup. But I struggle constantly with what to do with them. As a Christian I know I am to show love. But how to do that is the question. I think we all have an uneasy feeling that being supportive of a dysfunctional lifestyle just breeds more dysfunction. The single mother with 4 little kids and "all the fathers are in jail"? You are right, we have no understanding of the choices that lead to that. No understanding at all, and I am not sure there is a way to understand that when you haven't been raised that way. There is a feeling that they are being helped with the food stamps and the Medicaid and the tax dollars that we work for, but the "help" just means the bad choices continue. I am being honest, and I think that we all have these thoughts. The problem is easy to recognize, but the answers are hard to come by. You are right, we don't understand. The pitfalls of choosing to have children without a husband to support them seems so obvious. So what IS the answer? Does love mean that we support bad choices without question?

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    1. I think the piece that's missing for the middle class, is that this often a repeating cycle, and the psychology that goes into making these choices is what we need to work on. I get frustrated with these situations too, but when I look beyond to the background, the poverty, it about breaks my heart. I believe these are choices made out of a lack of hope.

      I work with kids in these situations, and it is heartbreaking.if we don't support their mothers, then we are removing support from them.

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    2. Thanks for your thoughtful questions. All I can say is, the more I love these friends of mine, the fewer answers I have. I have dipped one little toe into the mire and confusion they live in every day, and it's place that makes me so mad. Also, the more I spend time with them, the more I DO understand, though I still don't have answers. I don't know that the help means the bad choices continue. Like Nicole says above, the bad choices continue because in their minds, they aren't bad choices. And our minds that insist they ARE bad choices speak from a place of judgment rather than love. We want everyone to fit into our tidy framework, but I can't imagine fitting these people I love into my mold. They would lose some of the things that make them uniquely "them". Oh man, I could talk about this for hours. Please read that that I DO understand your words here and that I have asked and continue to ask the same questions.

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    3. A couple of the things you say here are revealing. Firstly, you say that the more you know your beloved friends, the fewer answers you have. This is a red flag. Although often overwhelming, greater intimacy with a person who is suffering should breed insight and the ability to help--not just befuddlement. When Jesus came down to earth, he was nothing but love. Yet in the face of extremely dire circumstances, he didn't suddenly blurt out, "Well! Now that I'm here, I have no idea *what* to do! This is a real pickle!" Instead, he lovingly "dug in" to each situation he encountered--the woman at the well comes immediately to mind. He showed love and compassion. But he also identified her bad choices, and gave her instructions about how to change for the future. He did not walk away from the well saying, either, "Well, she's really screwed her life up. No hope there!" or, "Well, things are so bad there that the only thing I can do is just love her. I certainly don't see a way to help. Love is the only thing I can offer." No, he offered love, help, direction and more. We have to believe that for all of us, God has a plan--God has a 'mold' that allows us to be our best self--our most glorious self--within which we can fit without losing any part of what makes us uniquely "us" and yet isn't marked by extreme dysfunction. In fact (I don't know if you are doing this or not) to suggest that part of what makes lower class people "uniquely them" is their dysfunctional choices is a form of classism itself. (Again, I'm not saying you're thinking this!) But we have to believe with all our hearts that there really is a way out--a path to wholeness. And that path is probably a lot more than either just love or judgment, and maybe a combination of the two, mixed with some of our own blood, sweat, tears and money. Love without solutions doesn't give the next generation a leg up--unless we just remove the kids (via adoption) and that's not a big-picture solution that's tenable or kind (my two oldest are adopted domestically out of abuse--so I'm speaking out of my own experience as well.) Good topic!

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  15. Shannan...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU my friend for sharing this well written post! It's been a burden that I've been pondering for quite a while now. I remember one day a couple of years ago checking out at a Goodwill store and the cashier had a few different colors of hair and piercings in a number of places. I walked around that store a good long while as God dealt with me about my attitude (like the middle classers you speak of in your post). By the time I made it to the register I was able to give her a genuine smile and strike up a conversation with her. When I saw how it changed her countenance I could have cried. From that time on, I've made it a point to make sure that I give a smile away to everyone...and when God opens the doors for me I give conversation or get involved in whatever way I can help. It is Jesus that I'm building up here, not myself...it is because He first loved me that I am able to share His love with those who are hurting. My most recent encounter was a couple of weeks ago when my washing machine broke and I had to use the washers at the laundromat. Two young girls (late teens, early twenties) came in...I smiled and started a conversation. I'm pretty sure the one girl thought I was crazy, or maybe she was just soaking in His love and not understanding why I'd even given her the time of day. But the other girl was totally into the conversation. I know that I'm not as involved as you are....YET...but I just had to tell you that I love your heart dear Shannan. xo

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    1. We all have that "YET" to contend with, don't we? :) Love these glimpses into your love, friend. Press on! It matters!

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  16. My first instinct is to yell YES!!! and send this link to all the people that I have been thinking really need to read this.

    But the quiet Voice that speaks truth is saying, "Girl, you better read this again and examine your own life."

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    1. Jeepers. I think you read my heart!

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    2. A to the Men. I didn't write this because I was reading allaya'llses (uh huh) minds. I wrote it because I read my mind all the dang time. I wrote it for me, too.

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    3. ummmm. yes. that quiet voice is speaking to me, too.

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  17. Man, I so love you.
    Really.
    Our stories are so similar and you are always able to speak what my mind is whirling around-AND you make me laugh.
    I'm an every post reader, but never a comment-er because I'm technically challenged and just now figured out how to leave a comment using my brand spanking new google account.
    So anyway- here's some love from Nowhere, NC.
    I'd kiss your face if I could.

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  18. I never thought of this kind of prejudice, but it may be the worst kind. At least the most prevelant. Thanks for the reminder, I'm sure I have been guilty of the same thing. I'm going to try harder, and after reading your message it will be easier. Having five kids, and a few foster kids, I have been humbled a few times by them and by the parents of the foster kids. You can't always judge a book by its cover. As a matter of fact. We shouldn't be judging at all. NOT our job. Great blog - keep it up.

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  19. Yep. Sounds to me like you're describing the sin of judgement. We've all done it. Greg Boyd addresses this in his book, "Repenting of Religion" which I'm almost through with.

    Thanks for your post!

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    1. Greg Boyd wrote another great book, God At War....

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  20. Yep. Sounds to me like you're describing the sin of judgement. We've all done it. Greg Boyd addresses this in his book, "Repenting of Religion" which I'm almost through with.

    Thanks for your post!

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  21. Ouch! Boy the truth stings doesn't it?
    Thank you.

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  22. It's like you are living the practicum for a Ruby Payne class. Thank you for sharing - this is very near and dear to my heart.

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  23. Well written Shannan! And oh so true. I have a niggling suspicion that the judgment in part is because we are uncomfortable....there but for the Grace of God go I....

    We are all about a breath away from poverty, aren't we? And poverty is the real enemy in these situations.

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  24. Very well written post and certainly shows your compassion toward those who suffer.

    But, I think you're also expressing a degree of leniency that is perhaps a bit idealistic. Sometimes in life we need tough love. Tough love often comes in the consequences of very, very bad decisions. There are two ways of receiving tough love: seeing it for what it is--a blessing disguised in work clothes, or shutting down completely and rebelling against it.

    There are a lot of people who are willing to accept the mistakes of their past, who climb up above it in spite of every obstacle, who will walk for miles and take multiple buses to find work, who humble themselves enough to accept help from people who could not possibly understand them but still volunteer their time. These people are undeserving of any condescending attitudes or judgments, and to them, I apologize sincerely for any unjustice they have felt from me or my peers.

    However, there are others who, when faced with adversity, shut down. They look at the inequity of the world around them and say "Some people just have it better than me so they should be required to share with me." They CHOOSE not to work because they don't feel that it is fair that they should have to work harder than those around them to earn less than the average pay. They squander what little money they do have and don't make future-oriented decisions. It's not always for lack of education; sometimes people choose to do what feels better in the moment and further generate adverse consequences that only THEY can face. While it is still not appropriate to treat these people as though they are expendable--that is inhumane--you should not feel guilty about people who CHOSE to have children before they were able to support them with men who were unable to step up to fatherhood. You should not feel guilty for choosing not to abuse your health with cigarettes, alcohol, and other destructive quick fixes. You should not feel guilty for any amount of money that you've earned through your hard work.
    You can certainly choose to volunteer, to donate, to give back in whatever way stirs you. I hope you do. But please, please do not confuse the people who have worked really hard to overcome their obstacles with those who are giving up completely.

    :)

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    1. Thanks for being a willing voice of dissent. We need to keep asking questions!
      I guess for me, it's so much more complex. I don't know that it needs to be about us feeling guilty for making what WE see as "better choices", it's about arriving at a place of understanding about the lives who truly have never seen another way. And even if they see it, they believe it's not for them. The friend I wrote about in this piece is working harder than I do every day of her life. She's fighting to survive but she doesn't even know it, because she has been conditioned every day to believe that the ways she lives is simply LIFE. Every decision comes down on the back of another. It's a constant weighing of priorities and yes, I would prioritize differently, but for a whole host of reasons. She's taught me to much and not just in the kinds of ways that make me say "But for the grace of God go I." She teaches me in the ways that make me WANT what she has, in some ways. She's no less, no worse, no lazier, no dumber than I. She's being exceptionally brave by letting me into her world and trusting me not to screw her over. So I'm taking that seriously and I'm learning to just walk beside her, helping when I can and should, but often just...walking. Everything looks different when I'm standing by her side. Everything.

      Thanks again for weighing in. This is complicated business, which is why I'll probably continue to think out loud about it on this humble blog. :)

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    2. Weighing in- I don't think that we can decide who is overcoming anything vs. a person who has given up. We generally don't have enough information- I also don't have a true understanding of mental illness or depression, etc.

      My uncle was a schizophrenic and his family did not understand his disease. A good friend of mine has a hubby who has been clinically depressed and unemployed for two years. It would be easy for me or you thisoldmap- to decide that he is lazy, doesn't care or has given up. I think all that kind of thinking does is again- perpetuate judgement. So you just read a thoughtful post about judgement- and what you ended up doing was being judgemental.

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    3. I don't think thisoldmap was trying to be judgmental as much as stating an opinion that choices do have consequences.
      When one observes consequences, it's natural to assume the choices that occurred first. It doesn't make it right to assume (or judge) but it does seem human.
      I'm learning the difference between OBSERVING a situation and JUDGING it. I'm personally learning that judgment occurs when you think a certain way about someone based on your assumptions.

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  25. Sigh. This is me. As much as I don't want it to be, it is. Not all the time, but too often.

    Thank you for this.

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  26. First. So well written! That said, not sure the answer, it does seem to come down to choices. I was raised in a trailer with two dresses for school, sometimes only popcorn (because it fills you up) for dinner, no breakfast or lunch except coffee, married young had two kids (one special needs) and knew I could provide a better life to my kids than going on welfare which many urged me to do. When my husband left because it was too much to raise two kids, I picked myself up and got on with it. Long story, I went to college, remarried the best dad/ husband ever and together we have had a good life, not perfect but oh so good. All because of choices. I have often wondered what caused me to know things could be better for my kids because of the choices I made. I for one do not know why I made the choices I did, but am grateful for making them.

    Enjoy your blog which almost always gives me lots to ponder.

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    1. Thanks for your perspective! I think so much of it comes down to self-worth. Thank God you have it! I know some who do, some who don't. It seems to fall most mysteriously on some, but not most. Thankful for your face in these comments. This is an issue that can never be parsed in one measly blog post. :)

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  27. my husband was just reminding me of this the other day when i was complaining about a rude lady in the store.
    he said, "sure you didn't say anything{RUDE} to her face, but you're telling me, and it{THE SIN} was in your heart." he was very gracious about it and it stopped me cold.

    ouch.
    truth hurts and i'm praying for a more loving, compassionate, less judgey heart, all the way around.
    xoxo

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  28. Ugh. Truth spoken here. I don't like it. So I need to be the change. Thank you.

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  29. You always have the right words to say. Sometimes I wish I could articulate these thoughts as well as you but until then I'll just share your blog posts on Facebook along with my own. Thanks for your brutal honesty.

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  30. dang. that's all i got.....just dang.

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  31. I'm going to be chewing on this all day. I hope there's a part two coming. Good stuff.

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  32. I read your blog often. Your posts always touch my heart. This one really puts a face on the problem. It is so difficult to walk the walk. Talking the talk is child's play. BTW you have a wonderful family and very fortunate children.

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  33. I hear what your saying and I am all here, here sister. But then, just as I am vowing to be a better person, to have compassion and understanding I see articles like this (timely article huh?)...
    Its the same here too.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2365312/Jobless-couple-claim-27-000-year-benefits-want-new-council-house-theyve-SIX-children-accident-living-bedroom-flat.html
    Sophie

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    1. I think the danger is that these "newsworthy" pieces catch our attention and then we believe the lie that it's all this simple, and that THIS is what people "living on the system" are like. It gives us that convenient out that we want so badly, the one that lets us walk away and say it's not our problem.

      Dang news. (haha)

      :)

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    2. Perfectly stated, Shiny. It gives us an out so we don't have to think deeply about it or ponder solutions. My older brother and sister are both masters of these exact types of facts, broad statements and generalizations. Sigh.

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  34. Spot on. This job I have been living/working the past 4+ years has opened my eyes to all those things you just said. But it's still easy to slip into my self-righteous shoes. Thanks for the reminder.

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  35. What about the people who lose their kids because they choose drugs & they system bends over backward to do everything possible for them but they only want drugs? The kids are left to hopefully a grandparent but often to foster parents who may or may not truly love them.

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  36. Wow - if this doesn't make us all stop and think just a bit then there's something wrong. Actually, there's already a lot that's wrong... Thanks for this, Shannan. Another beautifully written piece on a subject that is easy to ignore but definitely worth being reminded of.

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  37. Ouch...
    But I got your message.
    It was a message of just loving people, where ever, whatever they are for whatever reason they are there.

    Jesus, we seriously need to talk...I may need some help on this one.
    I thought I had that all down...what a wake up.
    Forgive me.

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  38. the problems i've been noticing lately are ~ when someone is raised in poverty the people they know, that are "their people" aren't like "us". what can lure someone away from the party life or the street life when they know they don't fit in with the other classes? feeding their children a healthy meal or getting them to bed on time often isn't enough reward when life is bone dry & difficult. even more, often there is depression, anxiety and pain involved and they self medicate because they don't have a psycholgist or doctors who can prescribe them the legal drugs they need to cope. when life was hard from the beginning and then it never eases up because of "choices", how can we blame them for being angry, worn out and not capable of living up to societies standards? for that matter most of us can hardly keep it together...
    it seems the only solution is to be broken hearted with the broken hearted, i'm not sure what this accomplishes but it has to be worth something, to not be judged by everyone but have someone walk right into your troubled waters with you has to matter somehow because it's the only idea i've got...

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    1. "it seems the only solution is to be broken hearted with the broken hearted" YES. One million times yes.

      Thank you for this. Thank you for understanding the complexity and choosing to stand as a friend, in love.

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    2. I'm learning that we don't need to have the solutions. We just need to bring love. Jesus has the answers, we just need to introduce them to Him through our love.

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  39. I absolutely love your 'take' on things...how'd you get so introspective, so young?

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    1. I think I spent a few too many years reading books and talking to myself. ;)

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  40. I've recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours sitting waiting for my name to be called in a government office. There were many things going through my mind. Some not so good. When you are bored out of your mind in an office where every 5 feet another sign proclaims "Cell phones are prohibited!" you tend to people watch. Note to self: Next time bring a book. Man, let's just say I had an opinion about EVERYBODY. I was frustrated, completely out of my element (isn't THAT an interesting turn of phrase) and I felt trapped and pouty. By the time I got to leave I had made a list of things that really annoyed me about 2 others races - and I had some good hate for those of my own skin color, too. Funny how I can feel like I've got that whole prejudice thing well under control - till you put me in a room and tell me to wait my turn with everyone else. Course, now that I'm back in suburbia I can ignore all that, right? Yeah, I pass prejudice and classism 101 with flying colors. I have so much growing left to do.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your ugly with us. I'm right there with you. We can only grow when we recognize the room for growth, right? xo

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  41. Thank you for putting this into print and saying what needed to be said. Beautifully written and so heartbreaking.

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  42. "The first shall be last and the last shall be first". I think Jesus will have the last laugh, at how we have treated His children. It sneaks into our lives and we need to be reminded of how we think,even when we don't say it. You have taught me so much. I love you.

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  43. sadly the church aka Christians can be the most unfriendly people if you don't fit into their clique.. Good reminder to show to Love of Christ to all as He loves us all.. We need to remember that we don't know the circumstances behind the reason why people dress,say or look a certain way.. Be grateful for what you have and see other's through Christ's eyes.. thanks for the reminder..

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  44. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this post. I shared it with my readers here: http://bit.ly/1aNlPKX I hope they find it as powerful as I did. Thanks for sharing!

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  45. Ouch. I believe you just paraphrased Jesus in Matthew 23

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  46. Sad to say there are many half hearted Christians living in this world! Many just want to judge and do nothing to lend a hand.

    We as Christians should be learning the true meaning of Christianity and how we truly should be honoring God and doing Gods work.In this so very broken world!

    It's o.k to help third world countries but we overlook the people who are suffering in our own neighborhoods.We are all so busy living our own lives we forget to stop and say use me where you need me dear Lord!

    A simple ride to the store, a few bags of used clothing, a bag of produce, a used pair of jeans, a few hours of free safe daycare can simply mean the world to someone less fortunate.

    Not everyone is as fortunate as the next.Long ago we depended on our friends and neighbors and strangers now I really feel that is a way of the past.

    Great post as always.Many Blessings to you and your family may you continue to do Gods work!

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  47. I've been on the receiving end of this too many times to count - and lately, I've been convicted of judging the judges ... ouch -- “We progressive urbanites are so much better than people who think they’re better than other people. We disdain those religious, moralistic types who look down on others. Do you see the irony, how the way of self-discovery leads to as much superiority and self-righteousness as religion does?” -- Tim Keller
    it's the height of pride for me to think that if I'd been raised like you "middle class", that I wouldn't be just like you -- and it's true for you also - you cannot say that if your dad had raped you from age 5 on, beaten you regularly, with your mom knowing and doing nothing to stop it, that if you suffered the same abuse and worse in the foster home you were sent to, ended up on the streets at 12yrs old selling your body to survive and "choosing" drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of it all, you cannot say you wouldn't be just like me too

    and I'm probably being prideful here, but I'd choose my life over yours any day - because it has made me the type of person who loves; who right now has a single mom of 4 kids with 4 different baby daddies, two in jail, living in my house for free, so she can learn about her value and her kids can have a better life -- if I'd grown up like you, I probably wouldn't love them

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    1. Thank you for offering your thoughtful perspective. I'm so sorry that you've been on the receiving end of this judgment and I'm thankful that you're speaking up.

      In your last paragraph you hit on something I want to talk more about. We are so foolish and narrow-minded to believe that our way is the best. There are SO many things I'm learning from my friends who live and think quite differently than I do. It's quite possible that they are changing me more than I'm changing them, and thank God for that. They are beautiful and maddening, but aren't we all?

      Love the way you're loving your daughter. That's the Jesus kind of love and it leaps over the head of our ideas about "teaching a different way". It gets to the heart of the matter and shows her her worth. THAT is the only way things begin to change.

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    2. she's not my daughter - she's a friend I worked with at a gas station ($8.40/hr) -- who had a crappy childhood, foster care etc, who just needs some help and some love

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    3. Is it okay that I now love this even more? I do. You're showing us something here, Sister. I've got my hear to the wall, listening.

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  48. Wow! I love this!! As my relationship with God is growing, this is possibly the thing I struggle with the most!

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  49. How powerful. Thank you for sharing. I needed to read that.

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  50. How powerful. Thank you for sharing. I needed to read that.

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  51. I hear you. I agree. BUT..... how can we help them? What are you saying we do? Just loving them may make their hour go better, but how do we help their life?

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    1. I wish I had a great answer for this. All I know is my friends (including the one I write about here)have made my life better and I think I have made theirs better. That's what friendship and love will do to a person, you know? We inspire each other in different ways. I would type out the text I got a couple hours ago, but it would probably make me cry and it's too late for that. ;) It seems love goes a long, long way. Like loaves-and-fishes style.

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  52. I've been on both sides of this.

    I've been the one looked down upon and whispered (not so quietly) about, eyes rolled at.

    I've also been the judgmental one, rolling eyes and secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) thinking it was their problem, their bad choices, why don't they just DO SOMETHING.

    God has really, really been working on my heart about this exact issue. No matter what the circumstances HE LOVES them, us, everyone!

    Last night I watched a movie/documentary called Furious Love (watch it!) and in the beginning someone said something to the affect of "If we don't see it, we aren't responsible." This really struck a chord with me. We aren't supposed to just sit in our comfy houses and take care of ourselves. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus and get out there and LOVE people.

    Thanks for this Shannon.

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    1. Oh, YES!
      And I will absolutely check out that documentary.
      xo

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  53. I read here all the time but have never commented. This touched me in the way that makes you bristle. "I don't do that!" was my initial reaction. And then I thought back to my pastor's message on Sunday about loving my neighbor as myself and applying the principles of 1Corinthians 13, and my conscience was pricked. Thank-you. Hope it's ok that I shared on Facebook.

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  54. I read here all the time but have never commented. This touched me in the way that makes you bristle. "I don't do that!" was my initial reaction. And then I thought back to my pastor's message on Sunday about loving my neighbor as myself and applying the principles of 1Corinthians 13, and my conscience was pricked. Thank-you. Hope it's ok that I shared on Facebook.

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  55. We underestimate disdain at our peril. Two neat syllables, slightly French and cultured sounding, but wrapping up more hatred and fear and meanness than the well enunciated vowels suggest. We have made a grotesque art form of the class system in England over the centuries and disdain is right at the centre of it. As Christians it has no place in our lives, but it creeps in so easily and I so agree with what you say, that being alongside, loving from an open heart is the only way. For those that have had the hardest start in life but have found hope and purpose, I want to hear what made the difference, where the determination and courage sprang from. I want to understand, because the answers will be powerful and real. Bx

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  56. you could start by becoming foster parents - I realize it's much harder for middle class people to understand the "adults" who never got rescued, but surely you can rescue/love a child ?

    being his hands and feet doesn't necessarily mean "going out" - I think it means taking in, sharing the good fortune he provides

    are we really here just to live a comfortable life?

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  57. Well written. I work in the ER and I find myself thinking similar thoughts some times. "Why does this lady smell like cigarettes if she is on welfare?" "How come she has fake eyelashes and nails but I am paying her medical bill?" But this is also a culture that is so different from my upper class white girl up bringing that I needed a strong dose of perspective. Thanks for the reminder to stay humble and connected. This topic merits more from you. You are on the front lines. I want to hear how you are coping with this yourself. How do you help with out judgement? Truly. Not just say donate at the food pantry but really dig in and get connected? I need that guidance.

    -On a light note - I love your little garden. It's looking so cute.

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  58. Loved this post. You really did nail it. Loving how the comments here are respectful and humble. Add me to the list of convicted hearts.

    Such a complex issue with so many sides; maybe it doesn't really matter if the people we're prone to judging are "trying" or not...either way, they are a valued, created, gifted child of the King. Worthy of our utmost respect, and honor, and mostly our love. Jesus died for them. Sometimes we (I) forget that He sees everyone through the same eyes of grace.

    Their circumstances are a reflection of a cycle of brokenness that will ONLY be reversed by love. We underestimate the value of coming alongside someone and loving them, doing life with them, getting to know them. It's hard work. Hurting people hurt people, and so many have been hurt for so long, so all they know is hurt and being hurt. Trust takes time. But truly loving someone, seeing the gold in them, despite choices or circumstances, is living out grace in its highest form.

    I know people with addictions and malicious habits and intents, and yes, tough love (and boundaries) have a place, absolutely. But...those people need love, somehow, too. Who's going to love them? How do you love someone who keeps hurting themselves and those around them? See. So complex. I definitely don't have it figured out, but it has to start from a place of humility and compassion and love. Right? Am I sounding like the old Beatles song yet? All you need is love?? Maybe. Maybe sowing those seeds of love will result in a harvest, and maybe mostly in our own souls.

    Thank you for writing this so beautifully, Shannan! Your heart is an amazing gift. xoxo

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    1. Oh. One more thing. I agree with you, somewhere you said that you don't want them to fit into your mold---yes!! So true. They need a revelation of love--not a list of things to change about themselves. Yes. Amen to that. Okay, I'm done now. :) Thanks for the space to ponder!

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  59. *crunch*... Did you hear that? Those were my toes getting stepped on! I'm a high school teacher in a middle-class area. Every year we take up class fee money the first few weeks each semester. I'm always a bit cynical about the kids on "fee waiver." Do they really need it? Are they lying? How can THEY be getting govt help when they dress nicer than ME, drive a nicer car, and use their IPhone 5 to text with in my class? How dare they? Lord, please help me to remember this when I get a new batch of students in a couple weeks. Help me to see them as you see them, dearly loved and worth your dying for. Help me teach them like Jesus!

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  60. I absolutely don't want to pretend to relate, but someone commented that the solution is to be broken hearted with the broken hearted. Try not to be creeped out that I read your comments. couldn't help it.
    Anyway, that's it, isn't it?

    6 years ago we had a home that was destroyed by raw sewage line that burst due to a mistake that the city workers made while trying to shriek the lines. It was a horrible situation. We felt vulnerable and completely at the mercy of the city government. It was scary. We thought we were going to have to lose everything and start completely over. As scary as it was, my parents and my brother and his family would have gladly taken us in, if we had needed them to. Thankfully, after 5 months of living without anything that belonged to us in a trailer that friends let us rent for a minimal cost, the city chose to take responsibility and purchase the destroyed home from us at market value. We understand fully that it could have been a completely different outcome.

    During those months, the people at our church, where we served on staff, honestly said all the wrong things to us. We learned so much about loving people in the middle of their mess because we needed so desperately for them to love us better, differently.

    Interestingly, we were completely HUMBLED by the love that our unchurched, smoking, drinking, cussing neighbors showed us. They invited us into their home for meals on countless nights. They wouldn't let us pay them for ALL the food they fed our family, even though they lived on much less than us.

    The were broken hearted with us. They allowed us to feel what we were feeling. They didn't expect us to say all the "right" things in the middle of our messy situation. They called it messy. (they actually called it worse than that!)

    We learned so much from them. I can't even tell you. Our lives were forever changed by their love and kindness.

    This whole story is so different from what you've described here, but the point is the same.

    We can be broken hearted with the broken hearted.....love makes all the difference. love with no strings...with no agenda. just love.

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  61. You are precious and I adore your heart and blog. Wish we were neighbors and friends! Keep up the great encouragement. ♥ya! -Stephanie

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  62. You are precious and I adore your heart and blog. Wish we were neighbors and friends! Keep up the great encouragement. ♥ya! -Stephanie

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  63. Oh, holy cow. This rings so true. Thank you!

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