One of the reasons that I love riding the U-bahn each day is because of all the different people that I get to see. I find people incredibly interesting, and oftentimes quite funny. One day this summer, a lady boarded my train, and I immediately did a double-take. You see, this person was rather flamboyant. She was dressed up so that when she walked into the train, all eyes were on her. She had this huge hairstyle, most probably a wig, tons of make-up, crazy stockings, a short skirt. You get the picture. She definitely didn’t fit in the commuter setting of the train.
I sat there quietly watching her, and then we both exited the train at the same station. Instead of heading toward the stairs, she walked to the side, so I thought that maybe she was meeting someone there. That’s not what she did. She fumbled through her huge bag to find some money, and then she bent over and gave it to the beggar on the floor.
I must admit that I hadn’t looked upon her favorably. She was an oddity to me. I hadn’t even noticed the beggar sitting quietly to the side, but she did. And she did not hesitate to go and share what she had with this man. I left the station feeling disappointed in myself. Why is it so easy to get a bad impression of someone just because they are different? Why do we form our impression of people by what we initially see? Why do we even think negatively about someone because they are different than we are?
This week in chapel, Mr. Totten, our school chaplain, challenged us all to look around us and to determine together that we will seek to support each other. ICSV now has students from 67 different countries! We are an incredibly diverse group of people. Mr. Totten challenged us to not view those who are different than ourselves in a negative way. He reminded us of the passage in the Bible where the Apostle James asks us to think how we would act if a rich man came into our church service or meeting and then a poor man came in who was wearing filthy clothes. Would our first thought be to treat the rich man well, giving him the best seat in the house, while telling the poor guy to sit over there on the floor? Is that not what I was doing when I immediately thought that person on my train was weird? Not as good as me? But that day in the subway station, who showed love to our neighbor? The lady with the big hair and strange make-up did. I was very humbled that day.
May we use this year as a time when we can show the world what it is like for such different people to come together in love and support of each other. May we never judge others because of our first impression of them. Instead, let us accept and honor those who are different, for that is pleasing to the Lord.
Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon C. Brobst, Ed.D.