I wanted to share with you guys a story. I’m choosing to be a little vulnerable here, so, please be nice.
As you may know, I have a biracial family. We look like this (except this was taken last summer so we all look older):
I have friends who look completely different from me. I go to a relatively diverse church. One of my husband’s closest friends is from Cameroon. I have very few issues with skin color (I am not going to say I have things figured out, but we are working hard at it). If you had asked me if I struggled with prejudice about the way people look I would have said that THAT is one area of life that is not a consistent struggle for me.
Some people at my church wear traditional African dress to Sunday services. I love it. I don’t give it a second thought. Some people wear jeans and some people go all out. Clothing at my church is not something I really even think about. Until last Sunday.
I was at church and there was a young lady there, maybe 20ish, who was dressed in what I thought to be Amish clothing. It surprised me. We typically don’t have Amish people show up at church, and the Twin Cities does not have a thriving Amish community like other parts of the country. So anyway, this young woman stood out to me.
This past Sunday I happened to be helping out with some stuff during the services with some friends, and I saw this girl kind of wandering around. There weren’t really any other people around besides myself and my friends that I was helping. As I looked at the girl, I said to my friend Marnie, “so, what is her story?” Marnie answered, “she is Mennonite. She is visiting here. You should go introduce yourself, she is thinking about coming to the women’s retreat.”
I thought about going to talk to her, but I decided against it. My friends already met her, so I didn’t need to. Later, as I was leaving church, I saw this Mennonite girl talking with a different friend of mine, Elisabeth, and I very briefly introduced myself and said hi. The end, off I went.
Monday evening Marnie and Elisabeth were over to hang out. We got to talking about this young girl at church. Elisabeth grew up Mennonite and was telling us about how neat it was to be able to connect with her. And then Elisabeth said something that I KNOW God wanted me to hear. She said, “I’ve been texting her over the past day and soon I need to tell her that she needs to change into some different clothes. It is hard for people to look past the clothes and see the person.”
It was like I got smacked in the head. A lightbulb came on. I was that person.
The reason I didn’t go talk to this girl was because of the way she was dressed. I told myself I didn’t know how to relate to her. I told myself I didn’t know what I would say to her. I told myself she had already met others and didn’t need to meet anybody else. But none of that was true. I was intimated by her clothes and thus chose to not interact with her.
I pride myself on being able to look past skin color, but apparently I can’t look past clothing choices. What does that say about my heart?!
I am so very very thankful for God revealing this to me. I learned a lesson. One I intend to not forget. I told Marnie and Elisabeth my thoughts and told them that I had not talked to her because of her clothes….so I have made my confession to friends, and now to you all. I know that I am a work in progress, and that God is not finished with me yet…and He chose to reveal a place in my heart that I had not even realized that I had not surrendered to Him. I am thankful he revealed it gently.
I hope to see this young lady again. From now on, it’ll be different.