I was skimming the early morning news when I saw the headline.
Yet another person had been killed crossing the highway in our small town.
He’d been hit twice, by cars going both ways.
Judging from the location of the accident, I quickly pieced together the rest of the story in my mind.
He was coming from an area infested with drugs and crime…he was probably high on meth or running from a drug deal gone bad.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone had been killed in that area for those reasons.
It was a sad story…but it was also one less tweaker we all had to contend with.
End of story…except that wasn’t the real story at all.
The real story is that he was coming from visiting his grandma for the holidays… he left before dawn to walk almost ten miles to work.
It was cold and it was dark.. but he wasn’t going to be late.
He was used to walking…his own home was five miles away from his work and he walked it every day.
He was never late.
He didn’t use drugs or alcohol.
He leaves behind a grieving child and broken co- workers.
The story I had constructed in my mind about him was horribly, sinfully, wrong.
I construct similar stories about people I read about or see every day.
You may be holier than me, but I doubt it….you do it too.
We do it to the people in front of us at the store using food stamps, we do it to the beggars holding signs at the intersections, we do it to the migrant in his dirty field clothes.
We do it to people who disagree with us theologically and politically.
We do it to the person online we know only by a name or moniker.
We do it to each other.
We do it constantly.
We think we know each others stories and we’re always the better person when we tell those stories to ourselves.
We become liars and slanderers in the process, even if we keep our lies and slander to ourselves.
We don’t know the strangers story, nor do we know how to tell our own rightly to ourselves.
We have no clue what someone is overcoming, where they are coming from or where they are trying to go.
It’s easier to live in our imaginary worlds where we are the people of virtue.
I’m ashamed of myself for thinking someone who was truly a hero to be a heel.
I’ve purposed in my mind to always make one judgment about other people first.
They are a person created in the image of God.
Maybe if I start practicing believing that about strangers, I’ll believe it about myself…
Make your own application…
“ I’ve purposed in my mind to always make one judgment about other people first.
They are a person created in the image of God.
Maybe if I start practicing believing that about strangers, I’ll believe it about myself…”
Pure gold. If we keep mining that vein of precious metal, we will end up rich for ourselves and others far beyond imagination.
Thank you, vic…
The 8th commandment requires that we speak well of people.
We need to obey the commandments and seek forgiveness when we don’t.
Empathy for those who disgust, offend or hurt us is the heart of love. Gods Heart.
Impossible for us. Possible through His Spirit, I believe
“Maybe if I start practicing believing that about strangers, I’ll believe it about myself…“
Wow, this is a keeper.
Thank you, JoelG…
This is pretty much Gladwell’s conclusion and assessment of human relationships in Talking to Strangers. What we don’t know kills them.
“I’ve purposed in my mind to always make one judgment about other people first.
They are a person created in the image of God.”
Nicely said. We know the truth of it, but all to often we lack the moral imagination to look beyond our prejudices and preconceptions…
such a sorrowful story…. sadly, it is usually the brave that make no protest, but just keep on keeping on unnoticed… God sees
may this man’s family be comforted and strengthened – May God’s love and grace be real to them … and us….
Wow! That’s powerful! No words to add.
Thank you, Michael. This is especially poignant living in H-town. The day after Christmas saw a flood of homeless on our streets, so many judgements to cast about in every block.
Then I learned that there had been an apartment fire nearby the night before. A father and his two daughters had been killed – a family of seven reduced to four. About 40 people had been displaced. We, in our cars, probably drove right by many of them totally ignorant of their tragedy and behaving ignorantly.
Please pray for the Moreno family, who lost Juan, 41
I don’t see how this is sinful.
Two stories from this week in California:
One friend is a Corrections Officer. They live in Folsom, a rich community east of Sacramento. They have a lot of green spaces. It’s nice. A homeless guy camped pretty much in their back yard. My friend caught him peeing, fully exposed. He called the cops. Thrice. The cops told him that unless the guy was doing something sexual, that they were forbidden to do anything. They have little girls who could see it. The sheriff said, “welcome to Gavin Newsom’s California, we can’t do anything.”
Another friend has a property backed up to green space. They had to get rid of their hot tub,because homeless would hoot and hollar with sexual comments. Local PD could do nothing. Not to slam my friend, but she’s a 50 year old.
I drove by Stockton on the freeway today and saw a shanty town by the water way. When I lived there in 1990, during a recession, I walked and biked there, and there were no homeless.
Beautifully done, Michael.
It reminds of something CS Lewis said …something to the effect that no matter how mundane the situation or individual, we’ve never met an “ordinary”, mortal person. Oh, that the Lord would help us see that each day with each person we come in contact with! Easier said than done…
A friend of mine ran into a local homeless guy recently. This was in a rural mountain community. Luke is known to live in a lean-to in the woods outside of town. The property owners are absentee, so no one bothers him. He was at the local mini mart. My friend stopped for lunch and bought an extra sandwich and drink. The guy is the older brother of a girl with whom we went to school in the 80s. He remembered my buddy, but motioned to the food and said, “I don’t need that, I need drugs.” Other than bringing back involuntary commitment and forced rehab, I’m not sure how we can help guys like Luke.