The Power of the Paradigm
Paradigm: a framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a community.
Paradigms…everyone has them. It is the way we filter information and it shapes our everyday decisions and the way we live our lives. Paradigms are powerful and not easily shifted because they are so well hidden within us…we use them without conscious thought. We grow paradigms from our environment…we think in certain ways because our parents passed down to us their way of thinking, etc. Paradigms affect all our senses. It’s a broad, deep subject and I don’t want to examine all the varied aspects here but I had an event happen a couple of weeks ago that blatantly showed me, once again, of the power and therefore, the limitations of being unable to think outside the box and how it relates to how we think about God.
One of my job responsibilities is the issuing of marriage licenses. I’ve done it for many years and, like all things that are repetitive, I do them without thinking. Recently, a couple came in to apply for their marriage license. After visiting for a few minutes, we started the process of filling in the necessary information. I start by scanning their driver’s licenses, which then populates some of the fields in the application. I scanned the bride’s (Sarah*) first. The system put her information into the groom’s fields. I thought, “that’s weird, why did it do that?” Ah well, computers do strange things sometimes. I backed out and began entering the information manually. One of the questions required of the bride is “What is your maiden name?” Sarah* looked at me kind of funny and said, in a deep voice, “My birth name was Edward Smith*.” I remember thinking, again, “that’s weird”. Folks, herein lays the power of the paradigm…
I DIDN’T GET IT!!!
My paradigm concerning gender was “a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl” and when presented with obvious information to the contrary, my brain lied to me and forced Sarah* through my “a girl is a girl” paradigm. It wasn’t until after the couple left that I realized that I had just issued my first transgender marriage license**.
Whenever you read the words of God, you filter those words through your paradigm. Christian, Jew, Islam, atheists, pagans…pick one. Every religion and every denomination teach their own paradigms about the truth of God.
Colossians 1:9 “…ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”
Wisdom and understanding are limited when we refuse to allow the possibility that our thinking can be WRONG. Learning truth is only possible when we keep an attitude of discovery.
Nothing can be added to a mind that is closed.
Now that my “gender” paradigm has been challenged I will forever think differently about “a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl” and the next time a couple comes in and applies for a marriage license, my brain won’t be able to lie to me.
Don’t allow the power of the paradigm to limit you. Don’t be afraid to be challenged in your paradigms about God…He is greater than the way you think about Him.
*Names are fictitious.**The above story is about me and how my paradigm needed to change, not about any other people involved in the story.