Friday, March 20, 2009

Think Well of Your Church Family

Earlier this week I did a post called Think well of your friends. Since then I have been feeling like I wasn't totally honest. I threw Greg under the bus, but, you see, I misjudge people, too.
I started going to my parish a few years ago. Several times there was a man who sat behind me who I was frightened of. Why? Well, he was husky, had a mustache, and a very gruff look on his face. He always smiled quite friendly like during the sign of peace, but he otherwise looked angry. At least I thought he looked angry. It turned out, he was just tired.
This man was a police officer who worked the night shift. Why? So that he could be home to take care of his disabled stepdaughter while his wife was at work. How gentle is that? Taking care of a disabled stepchild....Working a crummy shift so that he and his wife could take turns caring for her...Apparantly he was an amazing individual that I didn't get to know because I misjudged his tired expression (he came to Church right after his shift, before going home. Wow. Honoring God before going to bed after working the night shift....) for an angry one.
Had I not prejudged, and instead said, "Hi, my name is Helen, this is my husband Bob...." I might have found these things out before he died. He died in the line of duty last year. I didn't go to the wake or funeral. I needed to stay home with mom, and the crowd for a policeman's wake or funeral is deservedly large. I found out all these things from people talking at meetings about what a tragedy his death was, what a wonderful man he was, and about how his stepchildren spoke of him being more a father than a stepfather to them at his funeral.
What bothers me more than not actually ever getting to know this individual, is wondering what God had in mind for me when I noticed that man's expression. Was I supposed to be friendly, and ignore his expression? Was I supposed to ask him how he was, and offer some compassion? Whatever I was meant to do, I know I didn't do it. I didn't do it because I decided to be afraid of him because I prejudged his expression. I know God forgives me for my error. I also know that the man in question most likely did not know I was afraid of him any more than I knew he was tired. But still, I missed the boat. Next time, I hope to offer compassion, instead of fear. I also hope God trusts me with a "next time"...


katdish said...

God gives us many opportunities to model His compassion and love.

Thanks for sharing this story, Helen. I pray more people would share so honestly for godly reasons. It really makes me think.

Wendy said...

Great post, Helen! Sorry you missed out on the chance to know that man, but isn't it a blessing that it changed your heart?

Lovin' the new playlist! How very random can you make your playlist anyway? :o)

sherri said...

Very good thoughts here. Hey, you learned a valuable lesson. And then shared it with us so we can learn as well. Thank you.

That is something I'm always aware of, but only because a precious lady shared a wonnderful story years ago about a hateful, rude waitress who was horrible, and she felt as if God told her to tip her-REALLy big! SHe wrestled with this feeling, because she felt the waitress didn't deserve it. SHe gave in, out of OBEDIENCE, not compassion, and when she handed the LARGE tip to the woman, she started BALLING her eyes out. Thanking the tipper, telling her how hard is was leaving her children every evening to work the night shift. SHe was a single Mom and worried constantly, about them, how she was going to pay the bills, and just what a rotten hand "life" had dealt her. SHe was contemplating ending her life and had asked God to give her a sign, if he was really there and did in fact care about her and her nedds.
Then enters the big tipper...

I've never forgotten that story and it has made me aware that there is usually more than meets the eye when it comes to hateful people.

Hurt people HURT people.
*We're also big tippers (you just never know!)

Helen said...

Katdish, you have a good point. God gives us many opportunities to show compassion. I just need to recognize them.
Wendy, I suppose you are right. A change of heart is a blessing.
And I do have eclectic taste in music. I was just thinking that I might have musical ADD...
Sherri, thanks. The thing is though, when we shook hands during the sign of peace, he would smile. I was just too self absorbed to appreciate the smile, and concentrated instead on a tired expression that I chose to misinterpret. He wasn't hateful at all. I can't stand that I judged someone by the expression on his face, with no care as to the reason for the expression.
But Katdish made a good point. I will have more opportunities to be compassionate.

Michelle said...

Helen, I do not think you did anything wrong by not saying hi to the police officer! This is the world we live in. You can't just trust every single person you come in contact with. At least I don't. Perhaps, I am jaded and not as compassionate as you are. I hope you don't hate me for saying all this.

Perhaps i need to learn to trust more? I don't even go by expressions I just need to converse with a person before I trust.

Thats just me!!!