Ponderings with Doug – April 15, 2016



Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Often we are judged by our shape.

Our brain comes pre-packaged with a confirmation bias that allows us to justify our own perceptions and beliefs as being accurate, realistic and unbiased. Social psychologist Lee Ross calls this phenomenon “naïve realism,” the inescapable conviction that we perceive objects and events clearly, “as they really are.” It is this “naïve realism” that causes us to judge individuals based on their size and shape. If they are of a certain shape, we make certain judgments about the quality of their character based on our perception of their shape. Our perceptions and assumptions must be accurate, realistic and unbiased because they are our perceptions.

People who are slim shaped are often judged as being active and bright. They might be judged as being quick, hardworking and athletic. It could be true. It might not be true.

On the other hand, we larger shaped people are seen as slower, maybe less intelligent and perhaps a bit lazy. It could be true. It might not be true. Since I’m one of the large people, I am not telling our secrets today.

In our politically correct culture, one should not point out shapes or comment on them. Yet this happens all the time.  There is much “body shaming” on the Internet which is really “size assumption shaming.” I am perpetually stunned by skinny people who are “body shamed” as being too fat.

In your mind there is a vision of the “perfect shape.”  I hope your body self-image is a healthy one. Some of us have been judged by our shape. We even participate in self-talk based on what the culture teaches our shape means. I hope that no matter your shape you are taking care of your health.

And how do we talk about taking care of our health? Are you “in shape?” Right now I am “out of shape.” I am working on “shaping up” so I can be “in shape.” Actually, my goal is to have my waist measurement be divisible by my inseam measurement and yield a number less than two! When your waist is double your inseam, you are either fat or wearing shorts! I make no value judgment at this point about anyone else. I am talking to me.

My goal is to take on the shape of Jesus. I want my heart to be shaped like His heart so I will love like He loves. I want my eyes to see the world like His eyes. I want my hands to reach out like His hands. I want each day to be a reflection of Jesus in my life rather than my own reflection. I have discovered that Jesus challenges my assumptions and transforms my perceptions.

How do you shape up?

My friend Monica is married to Lee. They have a nine year old son named Grisham. The other day Lee was teaching Grisham how to measure a piece of wood before cutting it. I hope Lee reminded his son of the aphorism, “measure twice and cut once.” Grisham patiently watched his dad measure and cut the wood. I forgot to ask if Grisham was allowed to solo on his own piece of wood. The young man did have a good time with his dad.

Grisham thanked his father for taking the time to teach him the valuable lesson about measuring wood before cutting it.It is a great story about a dad slowing down enough to take time to teach his son.

Nine year old Grisham said to his dad, “Thank you for showing me how to do that. I know you want me to grow up to be a well-rounded individual, even though right now I am just a chunky oval.”

Grisham knows at a deep place he, like all of us, is a work in progress. His shape is not in its final form neither is yours!

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