The Habits We Inherit

I am beginning to develop spiritual practices, habits that I hope that will serve me well in my relationship with Jesus Christ. They are often referred to as disciplines and my first task is to understand what it means to be a disciple. I have an understanding but it is not my own. I want to know for myself what it means to be a student of Jesus Christ. Very quickly, I learned that I have not been– at least not in all facets of my life. But, I want to be.

I have inherited habits, behaviors, unexamined thoughts and unevaluated practices that have impeded my discipling. They are distracting, getting in the way of the lessons that Christ wants to teach me. They pass me notes in the middle of class. They cause fights after school. They are the reason that I did not finish my homework last night and that I am not prepared for today’s lesson.

One of these habits is prejudice. It is a habit that we, as Americans, have inherited, having little to no experience with which to draw such deep lines in society’s sand or to hold long- standing conclusions about any human being. I do not clearly understand our faith in race and yet, I hold convictions that I just believe to be true. I confess that there was a time when I had more faith in race than in God. I am certain that I am not alone in this regard.

It was a mindset passed down to me. So close to me so as to feel that I had a relationship with race long before I knew God or God knew me. So normal so as to never believe that race would do anything to harm me. So common in our conversations so as to never think that I could stop talking about race. It had become a habit; it was an expression of my individuality. Race and its prejudices were a part of me.

I was socially colored black and so I was to hate and oppose socially colored white people. In America, we have the habit of pre-judging, the habit of hating, the habit of ignoring, the habit of making persons socially invisible, the habit of placing persons in the center and on the margin, the habit of lifting up some people groups at the expense of tearing down others. But, habits are meant to be broken and this is one habit though inherited that I find to be of no value and that I will not leave for my children.

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