Sustenance for The Spiritmindf
I stood there and watched the woman get her two children out of the car, the woman with the blue hair, with touches of green and perhaps another color. She also wore a few tattoos, exposed by a typical summer ensemble of cut-offs and t-shirt. I assumed they were all going to the “loan place” next door. To be honest, I began assuming a lot of things…mostly things I’m not proud to share. My thoughts were putting together questions and a story that was not flattering, and not very kind either. Then, this verse hit me, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1–2, NIV) I started to wonder what her real story was, and the truth, that I knew absolutely nothing about, not really. I was looking at the surface, the blue hair, with no clue of what brought her to that moment in time. The reality of my judgement grabbed me, and I haven’t been able to shake it off because I have become more aware in these moments of how far away from where I want to be I really am. Much like Paul in Romans 7:19, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”
When we traveled to European countries we discovered that women, particularly older women, dyed their hair all kinds of colors. There was no real stigma that I picked up on, it was just something fun that many women did. It changed my personal opinions on crazy color hair and I would have thought my judgmental-ness in that regard. I have a friend who lives here in our small, conservative town who loves to use crazy colors on her hair and I love her eclectic style and bold choices. So, why did the blue hair throw me into such a negative attitude?
I recently read a little book by Philip Yancey entitled, Church: Why Bother?. The subtitle is “My Personal Pilgrimage,” and he tells about a time when he and his wife were in a search for a new church home, and the importance of being open to diversity. They ended up being a part of a fellowship in a downtown area of their city, The LaSalle Street Church. Adolphus was one of the members there who created challenges for others. He raised the bar on uncomfortable, way up there. Several Adolphus stories are told in the book, but here’s one that gives a pretty clear idea of what the church was faced with.
“As part of worship, LaSalle had a time called ‘Prayers of the People.’ We would all stand, and spontaneously various people would call out a prayer — for peace in the world, for healing of the sick, for justice in the community around us. ‘Lord hear our prayer,’ we would respond in unison after each spoken request. Adolphus soon figured out that Prayers of the People provided an ideal platform for him to air his concerns.
‘Lord, thank you for creating Whitney Houston and her magnificent body!’ he prayed one morning. After a puzzled pause, a few chimed in weakly, ‘Lord hear our prayer.’ “(p. 34)
Mr. Yancey continues to relate how, through the experiences with Adolphus and others in that church experience, he learned so much more about God’s grace toward us. That sounds like a move away from judgement.
We know from neuroscience that we can’t totally control all our thoughts. When it comes to judgmental attitudes, they’ve been built into our brains from culture, upbringing, memories and experiences over time, so it’s unrealistic to think they will go away completely. But with God’s Holy Spirit we can make progress, become more aware and at least know what to do with those thoughts when we recognize them. Remember the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” When we become aware of our judgmental nature, we can lean into a more fruitful attitude, growing into a result that makes us better than we were. It’s a process God planned for us. It’s learning to live in His Grace.
As a fan of the T.V. show, “The Voice,” I can’t help but wonder if we would, hypothetically, be better off somehow blinded visually as we meet and greet one another, within our church groups and in our community interactions. My favorite part of “The Voice” is at the beginning when the judges listen without seeing the person as they audition with a song of choice. I like to close my eyes sometimes and pretend to be a judge, and it can definitely give you a different impression, to listen without seeing. Think about being blinded to others visually, and see if it changes something in the way you think about them. It would be a fun experiment if it were possible. But, since we can’t really blind ourselves, let’s at least acknowledge and confess that we must battle through our unkind thoughts and seek love, joy and peace instead.
I don’t think I’m alone in this dilemma. I know I can pray and that God knows all about our dilemma. Why else would he give us the Counselor Spirit? Let’s embrace good counsel, seek its fruit, and pray that the next time we see blue hair, we will have more empathic thoughts. I do have that hope. We all do. Have a wonderful day!