I rushed into Starbucks to meet up with a friend of mine — let’s call him Joe — for a study session, and he was sitting ever so casually with an old, white-haired gentleman to his left. As I got closer and closer, I realized his scruffy, worn face, the wrinkled and disheveled clothing, and the gaunt face revealed lines and spots of being through some tough seasons. Joe introduced us and we shook hands, and the leathery grip was firm and welcoming. Aside from the fact that he rambled about various things that didn’t quite make any sense, it was almost as if he had been waiting all day just to speak with someone. And it was incredible to me that Joe took the time without any judgment or bias to sit down with this man and give him a momentary gift of companionship.
We eventually found seats and started to study, but a different man walked up to Joe and exclaimed, “I’ve never seen anything like that! You just sat down and talked to him… that made his day, and it sure made mine!” Then he was gone. Joe seemed embarrassed by the interaction, but all I was thinking about was, “NEVER seen anything like that? That really, really sucks.” I recall the rest of that Starbucks glancing here and then at that older gentleman, and wondering when he was going to leave, why he looked the way he did or talked the way he did, and the thought of loving him probably never crossed their minds.
I used to have a friend named Ashley when I was a lot younger, and she was the epitome of social-awkwardness and weird. She used to pick her nose in front of everyone, collect the treasures she dug up and placed them gently onto a napkin, only to wrap it all neatly and place it into her pocket. She did this throughout the day, and eventually had to start carrying around a plastic tote bag to store her napkins in. This really is quite unhygienic, and I remember asking her one day as I stared with fascination into her bag, “Ash, why do you need to collect your boogers?” She gazed at me as if I had asked a completely moronic question, and replied patiently, “Because they’re a part of me, and I don’t want to lose it.”
Wow. Profound. And it had to do with boogers.
Anytime I had to walk to the market or go to the local Thrifty’s to steal myself a pen or lip gloss (habit of the past, I promise), Ash would come bounding after me, stepping into stride. People would ask me often, “Why the hell do you hang out with her? She’s weird.” But the thing is, people will always ask things like that, especially the people who care about you. It’s almost as if their opinion of you may be TOO great, as if you’re TOO good to hang out with certain people. Even my mother at times would ask me why I don’t hang out with more doctors, lawyers, the “established” folks. Because somehow, hanging out with the lot of them will increase my chances of marrying one of them. But can you imagine how boring and uneventful it would be only to hang out with rich, educated people all the time? No offense to my doctor/lawyer friends, but I know a lot of you who don’t even like hanging out with people of your own occupational field. All of this is, in fact, so narrow-minded. One quality about myself that I like a lot is the fact that I’m not choosy at all about who I befriend or who I spend my time with. To be honest, I hang out with a LOT of people who others would consider strange, weird, creepy, whatever. Their company doesn’t bother me in the least bit, and I can always list things I love about each individual. Loving people is an immense gift, and it’s the lottery winnings that is SO overwhelming that you just have to start dispersing.
I’m really sad that that man said he had never seen something like that before. The display of love should be seen daily, among people who are “normal,” “outcasts,” and even extremely difficult to love. We’re on the stage of God’s massive production, and each of us are his heroes and heroines. If we are to represent the identity and character of God, perhaps it’s time to shed our pride and/or fear, and let the public see how dangerously loving His children really can be.