When Prejudice Looks Back from the Mirror

mirror - quote 2


I took a test recently that showed I was biased towards patients from the Middle East and prejudiced against those from North America — specifically the Northeast.

“That’s ridiculous!” I thought.  I am one – how can I be prejudiced against myself, against my family, against all my white American friends? But the way I answered the questions was overwhelmingly in favor of the final result.

When I look in the mirror, prejudice looks back at me.

I will forgive someone from the Middle East almost anything and people who were born and raised in America have to work to earn my trust and respect. And I realize that this is what I rail against in other people. It’s prejudice. It is treating one as valuable and the other as not. It is believing that one can do no wrong, while the other has all sorts of flaws that are irreconcilable.

When prejudice looks back at you from the mirror it’s ugly, and the face that looked back at me had prejudice written all over it.

But there was more that I caught sight of in that mirror, mirror on the wall.

Because she was there again with that slightly scoffing look on her face. I vacillate between wanting to kill her, being completely ashamed of her, and worst of all – being just a tad proud of her.

‘She’ was the pharisee I see in the mirror. The one who judges silently even as she extends a hand to the one in need. The one who thinks she’s better than others.

What do you do when what looks back at you from the mirror is so in need of an attitude change, a cleansing of the heart?

I fall on my knees and pray the ‘Jesus Prayer’ “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, A Sinner”.  And I go forward in Grace with a prayer on my lips that the power of the cross to transform can redeem and radically change that person looking back at me from the mirror.

Because that’s the Gospel message that I believe and proclaim with all my heart.

25 thoughts on “When Prejudice Looks Back from the Mirror

  1. Sigh. Guilty as charged. As much as I hate to see it, I do have this superior attitude – towards Christians especially. I see their ‘cultural’ Christianity and their narrow perspective on the life Christ has called us to and I cringe. I have this low level of anger inside. And it’s ugly and not reflective of what Christ has called us to.
    It also helps that I come from a right wing background and, even tho my years of Spain have changed so much how I think, they haven’t changed much and it breaks my heart of also angers me to see so much that is cultural rather than Christ. I know I need to learn to love them where they are at and live to call them out of this – not in a condemning way but in a loving way – not with my love but with Christ’s.
    And I am concerned about the affect it will have on my kids – as subtle as it is.
    Sigh. Once again, on my knees!!
    I enjoy your blogs – I can so relate!!


    1. I related so much with what you’re saying here. Yes! That’s my Achilles heel as well. I get so judgmental of those in the church. And yes – I get your concern. I feel like I unwittingly passed on both an insecurity and a prejudice to my kids in those arenas. Humbling indeed. In fact next week I’ll be guest-posting on a blog about how being an adult TCK has contributed to some insecurity in parenting. But your second to last statement – that’s where it’s at. On my knees – there is no other response. Thanks so much Jill. I needed this comment today!


  2. I agree with keeping this post to return to. As I am about to send child number two back to the US for college this is my concern for her life. I know I am the same way at times. Thanks for verbalizing this and thanks to others who have replied. It has brought it back to the forefront of my mind and helps me think how to help my children and myself confront this character issue in our own lives. If we are His we must love all people unconditionally. AGH!! God give us the grace to be like you.


    1. And you’re so right…it is a character issue and like any of these things needs to be brought under the Grace of God. Thank you Rhonda! I have loved the wisdom in the responses from others.


  3. I know that I am much harder on fellow Americans because I figure that we should know better since we have been blessed with high levels of education incredibly easy access to good Bible teaching. It has taken me a long time to realize that this is prejudice and that I need to extend the same amount of grace to “blessed” Americans as I do to people who are illiterate and poor overseas.


  4. Honesty – that’s why you amaze me Marilyn. You show us for who we are by your writing. And, you’ve sited my most-often used prayer…


    1. I love this prayer. I’m reading The Way of the Pilgrim – that book that Franny talks about in JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. It’s a remarkable look at this prayer.


  5. There’s a series topic here for you Marilyn: Exploring TCK bigotry… So my problem is this and more – I find myself alternating among prejudices depending on where I am geographically. Sometimes I find myself feeling prejudice against my passport countrymen; then against my birth nation; then against my fellow TCK generation and, not surprisingly, mostly then against myself for feeling this way. Thankfully the opposite happens more and more where I find myself rejoicing in the diversity of cultures, appreciation for my passport country, and, again not surprisingly, at peace with myself. The degree of my prejudice seems directly related to the amount of direct and personal interaction I have with people of a variety of cultures (listening, learning) or, on the other hand, how much time I spend avoiding such interaction, leading to introspection and bigotry.


  6. Oh my, yes, I can remember walking along a Murree street feeling smug and then realizing that yes, that was what it was….prejudice…wow, thanks for Mare…we need reminded of this and well, love that cry for mercy and I add, “Lord give me a humble spirit to all I meet and the deeper truth…towards you…thank you for mercy.”


  7. Just yesterday I was talking to two MK’s about this very subject. I am old, they are young — and we agreed that it’s hard to get rid of this kind of thinking. My Chinese friend says she has the same problem — but from the other side. Thanks for daring to discuss this. I am forwarding your blog to some other “misplaced” young people.
    KEEP IT UP. Aunt Grace


    1. Thank you so much. Good to hear of your conversation and I think that is one of the keys – honesty in conversation where others can not only identify, but challenge us to move forward. And I’ve heard the same from the other side as well as been a victim of the same type of thinking overseas….so not fun.


  8. Marilyn….You are brutally honest and radically vulnerable. Thank you for trusting us with your sin. I remember when I first discovered the tendency towards this in my own soul…ouch! Yes Lord Jesus…have mercy on us who sin…. a lot….!
    Double Ouch. Double Grace. Double Gratitude.


    1. I am deeply, deeply grateful for this comment. I was just about to delete this post thinking what have I done by publishing this…..thank you for the double grace of this comment and the perfect timing of it. Thank you.


      1. Marilyn, don’t don’t don’t deleate this post!! I needed to hear this. You took a mirror and let me see my own heart clearly. Thank you so much for sharing so vulnerably.


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