Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Real Nice People

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 220: Today, I am grateful most people are nice when you finally see them.

"Atticus, he was real nice..."
"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."
-To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Language barriers, cultural norms, life experiences and fear... these things help us build walls between people. 

We can learn so much from an Oreo commercial. Years ago, they put together a commercial where two little boys were seated together on an airplane. Their ethnicity was different, but their age was about the same. One was teaching the other how to twist and separate an Oreo cookie so the white frosting center could be scraped off with the teeth. Language and race barriers didn't stop them from exploring friendship. We need to watch the children.

One of the scariest parts of getting to know someone, is knowing they are likely to know us, too. Most people fear rejection at some level. We want to belong and be accepted with all of our quirks. We all need a "tribe". 

Our idiosyncrasies can become the very thing our tribe will step up to embrace and protect. "The Help" is a modern day book... set in the past... teaching us to take the time see people. Really see them. Don't cheat yourself the opportunity to read the book because there is a movie. The book is so much better. 

Prejudice can be taught and caught. It can be untaught, too. If only we would remember these wise words:
"Every single person has a story that will break your heart. And if you're paying attention, many people... have a story that will bring you to your knees. Nobody rides for free." - Brene Brown

Cultural myopia. We see clearly through our own culture. Some feel sorry for those who live in rural places because they miss out on city excitement. Others feel compassion for those bound to city noise, traffic and the numbers that press in on all sides.The truth, we are comfortable with what we know. To stretch ourselves we must take risks. Only then can we see people... "finally see them." 

The Bible is clear on looking for those in need and defining what is important. James... that tiny little book packs a powerful punch. Sometimes, right to the gut.  Other times... a little time on the margins of society with those people living in the fringes, brings clarity to the whole idea of learning to love God more. We do that by loving each other. 

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. -James 1:27

For my Dad, a jail cell and a Gideon Bible was his favorite mission field. For him, the prejudices he carried... and we all have them... seemed to disappear when he met someone in their brokenness, talked and prayed. In the darkest times, a little light can shine.

People Dad might have avoided on the street, often ended up at our dinner table. Broken hearts, he found in a jail cell. One woman and her family, we all came to love. Together, we wept at his grave. Her embrace so warm and full of love is one I remember from that day with clarity. 

Everyone has a story that would break your heart. But, our stories don't end there. In fact... it can be the very place new life begins. The walls come down and "genuine, pure" honoring of God the Father takes root.

I am grateful for the moments that bring us together in a way that helps us see each other more clearly. I am sad the moment needed is often a tragedy. We can work on clearing our vision by getting to know our neighbors. 

Today, I am grateful most people are nice.

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