In her own words: Lauren Anderson
Editor’s note: Ninth-graders at St. Paul are sharing their faith stories as part of confirmation. Come and hear their stories on Sunday mornings, 10:20-11:05 a.m., through Oct. 14, in Fellowship Hall.
Hi, my name is Lauren Anderson and my faith story is…
How Faith Has Taught Me to Look Past Stereotypes
In the world that we live in, society is constantly judging people by things they may not be able to change. We stereotype people by their race, their color, their gender, their shape, and countless other ways. Most of us would like to believe that we look past stereotypes, or at least put our best effort forward to doing so. My parents always taught me that’s it’s important to get to know someone before you make conclusions about them. The way someone looks does not matter. Someone’s home life does not matter. How much money a person has does not matter. What matters is character. Even so, I find myself and countless others looking at people and judging them by these things.
This summer, I went on a mission trip to Birmingham, Alabama with my church from the Chicago suburbs. It was my very first one, and I had no idea what to expect. On the mission trip, we met lots of community members who were less privileged. I had made my assumptions, which turned out to be extremely false. The community members were the ones that taught me something, the trip was so much more than just doing projects for others. Every stereotype that I put in my head was proven wrong.
For many years of my life, I also participated at PADS, which stands for Providing Advocacy, Dignity, and Shelter. This is a program where homeless people from the community come to the church and receive a meal and a place to sleep. So many of those people were amazing. Their positivity, stories, and outlook on life inspired me to be the best version of myself possible. The PADS guests were constantly encouraging us to stay in school, do our best, and they always said listen to your mother. Again, society’s stereotypes were proven wrong.
Everyone jumps to conclusions. We all judge books by their covers. But what God has taught me to do is to look past that. We need to learn to love and accept others for who they are, and nothing else. God doesn’t stereotype or categorize God’s children, God loves us all equally no matter what. If my faith has taught me anything, it’s that the world is full of beautiful people, and in order to see that, we need to be accepting, welcoming, and we need to open our hearts to everyone.