Wednesday, November 06, 2013
The day I got caught… A little over a year ago, I attended She Speaks writer’s conference in North Carolina. My friend and I rode the elevator many times that weekend. The last day, I was feeling tired from all the excitement and my brain was on overload. I had met many people on the elevator that weekend, but this time was different. A woman with a large rolling backpack entered the elevator. You would think with my having a physical disability, I would have been prepared for what happened next. I tried not to stare but I couldn't take my eyes off of the physical scars that were apparent on her face. It didn't occur to me to ask her questions. I was torn. I didn't know how this woman, who I didn't know at all might respond to a question regarding something so personal. It seems as though we were on the elevator forever. The silence was killing me, and I'm sure the silence must have been making her uncomfortable as well. She broke the ice by striking up a conversation with me. One would think my being in a wheelchair all my life would make me more sensitive to situations like these. Shouldn't I have been the one to be more tolerable and open? It was evident she wasn't seeing my chair upon talking to her. She wasn't being mean to me for staring at her. She offered to give me information about her personal testimony, and her desire to minister to others. I could not help feeling deeply convicted as we parted ways that day. I of all people should know the pain of being judged by physical appearance alone. I learned a lesson from that sweet woman that day. I became aware of just how tempting it is to judge by appearance, even if I have been judged by the same standard. I have more understanding and compassion, not only for those who are being judged, I also have compassion for those who are doing the judging as a result of this experience. In that moment, I had judged a woman solely on what had happened to her, even though I didn't know what that something was. This woman, to be honest I don't even remember her name now,showed me how our Savior teaches us to view those made in His image. Instead of being angry with me, because in my ignorance and curiosity I stared at her, she chose to use that as a door of opportunity to minister to me. This woman's humility is beyond anything I have seen upon the earth. As Christians, we must ask God to help us see with spiritual eyes like Jesus does. . When I came home from the conference I opened the packet of information she gave me, and I was in awe of her depth and wisdom. I was humbled by her desire to educate and inform others about her ministry. This beautiful woman inside and out could have chosen to be bitter and resentful for her lot in life. She could have chosen to be angry because no doubt throughout her life I'm probably not the first person, who stared at her, and sadly I'm sure I won't be the last. I wonder if most of us would be so bold to allow those uncomfortable and painful moments in our lives to be a window to educate others in their own struggles and pain. I don't know where this woman is ended up. I do know her courage and strength were an inspiration to me that day. I will make a conscious effort to extend the same grace and mercy that this wonderful person did, whether I am on the side of tempting to judge another person by physical appearance, or if I am the recipient of someone else's judgment. Immediately after that encounter: the Lord brought a verse to my mind. "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" 1 Samuel 16:7.
We live in an appearance driven culture. It is comforting to know that we worship a Savior who sees beyond the outer appearance, and concerns Himself far more with the depth of our character and beauty of our souls! As Christians, we must ask the Lord to help us see those we come in contact with using spiritual eyes, even when it comes to that which is physical. This woman who taught me one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned, has a beautiful soul. She has even more than that, she has a beauty that is displayed through brokenness and physical scars Likewise this is the same with Jesus Christ! He bore our pain and took our scars: yet there is none more beautiful than the Savior Christ the Lord! Have you ever had a similar exprience?