In church the other day, I put my foot in my mouth. Clear up to my knee.
I met a guy. He was tall. Very tall. With beautiful, coffee-colored skin. He was visiting us for the first time, and I shook his hand, and asked his name. Discovering that he is a student at the local high school, I asked him (and here, I let you share in my humiliation), “Do you play on the basketball team?” (You gasped, didn’t you?)
He gave me the look. The one that says, “Really? Are you really asking me that?” I was mortified. I wanted to fix it, so I said, “Volleyball?”
I don’t know why I said that. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t what happened. It was a moment of stupidity. No filter. Ignorant. Wrong.
Throughout this series, I’ve been hearing from many of you. You’ve sent me emails and FB messages, telling me you are afraid of saying something similar to what I said in church that day. The common theme is that you don’t want to be a racist. Let me just tell you this. The fact that you don’t want to be racist is a good indication that you’re not.
Sometimes, we say the wrong thing. We say it because we have a temporary lapse in judgement, our filter malfunctions, we don’t know any better, we are human. If that’s you, join the club. Join the conversation. Tell us the best way you’ve found to remove your foot from your mouth. And keep on keeping on. Apologize when you can. Learn when you can. Admit when you’re wrong. Empathize and gently correct when you see your sister limping along with her own foot in her mouth. Accept correction when it’s given.
A racist is “a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others.” (Dictionary.com)
Okay. So, if we’re being honest here, we’ve probably all been guilty of these kinds of thoughts and actions at one point or another. As Americans, we often think other countries are inferior. As Christians, we sometimes get on our high horse and speak words of condemnation. We think our culture is better than the rest. We think our political candidate is the only right choice.
Whenever we find ourselves guilty, the best thing to do is to own it. Don’t try to sweep it under the rug, make excuses, point the finger at someone else, or – worst of all – prove why we’re right. Just own it. Confess where we’re wrong (and we all are, at some point).
As my father-in-law used to say, “If you know better, do better.” Yep. It’s that simple.
Alright then. Carry on.