It's easy to make assumptions about people. Like the guy proudly walking into Home Depot early last Saturday morning with a "Did It Myself" shirt. Or the one I saw shortly after that read, "Do me a favor and stop talking."
Bumper stickers get me, too. I recently saw one that said, "White, Straight, Republican, How else can I piss you off today?" People are practically begging to be stereotyped, but we can't allow it to isolate us to only those like us or lead to judgment or cynicism.
Stereotypes and assumptions are easy. They're a short cut, an easy way out from truly being with people. If I can quickly categorize you and determine if you fit my preference, I can save time and energy. We all do it, and I'm sure we are all missing out.
To an outsider looking in, I might even surprise some...
I call myself a Christian, yet I am fascinated by science and feel no threat by its claims. I wear a suit every single day, but my preference is jeans, a T-shirt, and boots. I'm an introvert but love talking to people. I'm an Alabama fan but could not care less about sports. I'm a "Millennial" who doesn't really identify with a lot of what that label carries.
We need to assume the best, and bear with the worst in people. The reality is that people are so much more than their obvious traits.
Even the people who boldly advertise their obvious traits have an intricate story under the surface and often good traits we easily miss because of our assumptions.
One of my favorite songwriters, David Ramirez, penned this lyric,
"There's a plumber down in Arkansas
The best writer I ever met
When I ask where to find his CD
He just laughed and lit a cigarette..."
In a commentary about the song, he told a story about a late night after a show. He connected with some locals and found himself sitting around a campfire, passing around a guitar and sharing songs. He was floored when the unsuspecting blue collar man busted out a moving tune.
We never know the depth of those around us, especially when the outer cover lends itself to stereotypes and assumptions.
Try ignoring your first gut reaction with people today. Be present in a curious and compassionate manner. You just might be surprised. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best, and bear with the worst.
Have you ever turned on a faucet that sputtered for a second, with the first bit of water being dirty? Sometimes the pipes need clearing before the good water comes out.