Ruled by Love in a Sea of Stereotypes

27 Jul

no-stereotypesLast weekend I was sitting alone waiting for a play to begin when a lovely woman sat beside me. Somehow we started talking about the plight of the poor in America. She and I had very different thoughts on how to deal with the issues. We were polite, tiptoeing around each other, careful not to offend. Neither of us mentioned candidates—though it was clear where we each stood. We didn’t argue. Instead, we searched for common ground.

You know what? We found it. We were both Christians, both cared deeply about the suffering we saw daily, and both passionate about wanting to help.

But when it came to our political beliefs, we were polar opposites.

I had a conversation the next day. This person, frustrated about something in the political arena, said, “Those liberals are all alike.”

I thought of that lovely ebony-skinned woman. She’d spoken passionately about the people she served. She wanted things to get better, just like I do. She was a liberal, no doubt, but she was beautiful, kind, tenderhearted, and sincere. Was she just like every other liberal in the world? I don’t think so.

Is the wealthy business owner I work with at the food pantry just like Donald Trump? Not at all.

Bring it closer to home, though. Are you just like your siblings and your parents? When you gather for family reunions, do you look around and think, we’re practically clones of each other? When you go to church, are you amazed and how everybody looks, acts, and believes the same?

Of course not. It’s so obvious that we’re all unique, and yet, how often do we hear it?

They’re all alike…

Those politicians

Those Muslims

Those cops

Those blacks

Those gays

Those immigrants

Those Christians

That kind of reasoning is intellectual laziness. It’s insulting not just to the people we’re talking about but to all humanity. It’s a slap in the face to the Creator, who made us each unique and in His image. Every single person has beliefs, ideas, opinions, and dreams, and those have been shaped by their families, their trials, their successes, their friends, their schools, their communities, and countless other things. Each human soul represents a beautiful story that began in the heart of God.

Tweet this: Each human soul represents a beautiful story that began in the heart of God.

Yet I find myself slipping into that thinking sometimes. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to classify people? To disregard them?

I resolve to look beyond stereotypes to the people behind the masks. I resolve to believe that each of us has something unique and valuable to contribute, whether I agree with a person’s politics or his faith or his lifestyle. I strive to, like that sweet woman and I did, respect another person’s beliefs even if I don’t agree. And I resolve not to be offended when he doesn’t agree with me.

In short, I resolve to do my best to be ruled by love. And when I fail–which I do often–I resolve to keep trying.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (Quoted from BibleGateway)

How do you keep yourself from stereotyping people?

Have you ever felt like someone was stereotyping you?


DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, was recently named a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and won the 2016 Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Its prequel, Chasing Amanda, is currently offered for free at all major retailers. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website,



Posted by on July 27, 2016 in Living for God, love, Robin Patchen


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9 responses to “Ruled by Love in a Sea of Stereotypes

  1. Candice Sue Patterson

    July 27, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Well said, Robin. Great reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. kararhunt

    July 27, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I try to avoid stereotyping people by aspiring to Dr. Martin Luther King’s wise words of judging people by their character. Another great article, Robin. So on point.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robin Patchen

      July 27, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Indeed. Let us judge people by the content of their character–brilliant words by Dr. King. I’m trying to live up to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. jerichakingston

    July 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Another excellent post, Robin. I’ve stereotyped, and have been stereotyped. Thankful to have been on both ends of it, so now I know how it feels.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Terri Weldon

    July 27, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Robin, I admire your eloquence. I’ve been stereotyped and it isn’t pleasant. I’ve also been guilty of stereotyping. Something I hate to admit.

    I think seeing those we love being stereotyped makes one of the biggest impacts in changing how quick we are to do the same to others. I can think of someone dear to me whose lifestyle has definitely impacted my thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robin Patchen

      July 27, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      I think you’re right, Terri. When we see people we love being ill treated, it’s much worse than dealing with it ourselves. My son is a teenager, and he deals with it all the time. He’s been pulled over and had his car searched a few times in the last few months because he often has a lot of guys in his car. Cops assume they’re all using drugs or drinking or something, but they never are. The police have to do that–they have to search for the people most likely to be committing a crime. So what does Nick do? He’s polite and respectful–even when they’re not. “Defy the stereotypes.” That’s his motto.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pegg Thomas

        July 28, 2016 at 7:26 pm

        Your son is wise beyond his years! Living where we do, young men in pickup trucks are profiled by the police. We taught our son to obey the law and do what the nice officer says. He was pulled over a number of times. He did like we said. He’s now 28 years old and has never had a ticket. We *can* teach our children to respect and obey the law *and* the law enforcement officers.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pegg Thomas

    July 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Oh. Ouch. Convicted. It’s so easy to stereotype. *sigh* I do try – sometimes – to look and think beyond that. But let’s face it … I need to try harder and more often.


    • Robin Patchen

      July 28, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      Me, too. It’s hard to not stereotype. It’s hard to defy the stereotypes, too. I can easily be stereotyped–40-something southwestern Christian woman. You know–“Well, bless your heart…” I try not to use that phrase. 🙂



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