A few summers back, a tattooed, young woman with multiple face piercings stood in line at a fabric store, waiting to get her fabric cut. As she waited, a mother with a young child cut in line in front of her, arms full of red, white, and blue fabric. While giving the tattooed woman a pointedly nasty look, this woman said to her child, “SOME people are not real patriots.”
My brother shared this story with our family and I learned a life-changing lesson from that: You CANNOT judge someone based solely on their looks.
That tattooed young woman is my brother’s wife. She was honorably discharged from the army after being injured by shrapnel from a land mine—serving our country. She will struggle with physical deformity and PTSD the rest of her life because of serving our country.
She cannot even enjoy Fourth of July fireworks because of her unseen PTSD injuries. I’m pretty sure that she’s a real patriot. Broken? Yes. So are we all. Thank goodness our Savior loves each of us, brokenness and all.
Over a week ago, my tween came down with strep throat. Sure enough, within a few days I had it myself. The first day that I started to feel more like myself, I took the youngest two kids to the park and I went for a bit of a walk—still shaky on my feet and clutching my water bottle.
As I rounded a bend in the path, I came upon a couple that was obviously having an argument—hands gesturing and frustrated anger apparent on both faces. The woman was pushing a stroller with an adorable little boy seated in it.
It was an effort to smile because: #1. I felt horribly; and #2. They were emanating hostility. However, I did so because this was my first time out of the house and I wanted to somehow fulfill my commitment to serve as the Good Samaritan would. As I attempted to smile a greeting, the woman openly glared at me, staring at my baseball cap before slowly glaring her way down to my shoes.
Let me explain. I am vanilla. I am the most typical suburban housewife you can imagine. I like myself—I am hilarious, fun to be with, and love life … however, you can’t tell that by looking at me. I radiate the image of an average American housewife.
And this woman glaring at me was not! — Her pierced facial muscles twitched into a smirk, her heavily tattooed arms pushed the stroller and her equally ferocious-looking companion strode by her side. And she clearly was ready to judge me as lacking.
The Spirit whispered to my heart, “Say something to her.”
REALLY?!? She clearly wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. She was in the middle of an argument. What could I possibly say?
“Say something to her.”
So, I began to speak, hardly knowing what words came out of my mouth … something about how adorable the little boy was and how old was he. She stopped walking, stopped glaring, and stood for a moment, assessing me, before answering that he was four months old. Her companion looked off into the trees lining the path as she and I continued to talk about her son—clearly the light of her life as she grew more and more animated sharing all about his accomplishments.
My voice and throat would not allow me to talk for long; however, when we parted she was smiling and began to speak pleasantly in tones of surprise as her companion returned and they continued on their way. After completing the entire circle of the path, I sat on a bench to recover and wait for my darlings to finish their play. As I sat there, I observed this same couple reach their car. And with clear happiness in their demeanors; work together in getting the child and stroller into the car.
I am not claiming credit for improving their moods. I am not saying they would not have worked out their differences whether I had spoken or not. But I am going to bear witness that there was a change felt after we spoke—there was a comradery between mothers, a shared smile, and a feeling that the world was full of friends yet unmade.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Savior’s final words to the lawyer are, “Go, and do thou likewise.” May I offer the same advice? Go. Smile. Be pleasant to others, no matter their outward appearance—in either physical demeanor or in countenance. Do as the Savior would do in reaching out in love—in word, in deed. There is such a need for more loving words, more acceptance of what is different, and more truly Christ-like behavior from those of us who claim to follow Him.
Enough arguing. Enough noticing what is different, what divides. Celebrate our uniqueness! Celebrate the incredible diversity that the Creator of All made when He created everyone! Love each other without judgement and, I promise, you will be amazed at the incredible examples surrounding you.
Everyone has a story of inspiration and strength—when you pre-judge, as the woman at the fabric store did with my sister-in-law, you miss opportunities. How wonderful could it have been for her to introduce her child to a true hero, a true patriot—instead of spreading poisonous vitriol?
We, as followers of Christ, MUST step up and be better. We must reach out. We must love. If we, who know the fullness of His love do not, then who will?
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.