I had seen him before. He has been delivering papers on our street since the day we moved in. I even called on him before, because he always drove so fast down our cul-de-sac where kids roam around and ride their bikes. Thanks to God's grace, I was kind in my phone call, and he must have gotten the message; he stopped driving fast after that.
Yes, I had seen him, but I had never spoken, maybe a small wave here or there. To be honest, I always wondered if he was, I don't know, a little strange. He would drive with the windows down and always seemed to be talking to himself out loud. I thought maybe he was singing, but I wouldn't really hear any music coming from the car. Sometimes, I even wondered if he had been drinking. He never scared me though, and I never worried for my kids' safety except for the fast driving.
And yet, I found myself wanting to meet him. What was his name? What was his story? Was he from here, and how long had he been delivering papers?
And this day, as he stood out in the heat, car stranded, I decided to set aside my to-do list and my selfishness (by God's grace again) and ask if he needed help. He had a phone, but no one could come for a while so I offered my jumper cables and van. Of course, I had to make it very clear that I had no idea how to hook them up. Thankfully, he did.
As we stood out there together, both sweating in the sun, I couldn't help but notice our differences; he was much older, probably in his 70's; I'm 36; he was black; I'm white; he was a man; I'm a woman; he knew cars and what he was doing; I had no idea-I just did what he said.
And yet, as we stood out there together, human-to-human, both created by God, our differences blended together, celebrated in my mind. I wonder what we looked like out there, a young, white woman and an old, black man, laughing and talking as we, or he, tried to get his car started? I bet to some we looked like an odd pair, but I like to think that we didn't look out of place. Two very different people on the outside, enjoying each other's company, and maybe not so different on the inside.
I think there is a deep beauty in differences. I think it is OK, even great, to notice differences. I think they, our differences, should be celebrated. But to be honest, I don't always do this. Sometimes my patience is short due to differences. But when I take the time to stop and talk to people that, in some ways, are completely different than me, something wonderful happens. It cracks open part of my selfishness and gets me outside of myself. So often, it's in these differences that I am reminded of the love that God has for ALL people. It's in these differences that I catch a glimpse of God.
His car never did start so I invited him in until his ride could come and get him. He said, "no thanks." I offered to take him somewhere since it would be a while before anyone could get to him. He graciously said, "no thanks," again. He was just content with waiting next to his car, and he had "plenty of water," he said.
He taught me something that day. He wasn't in a rush, and he wasn't worried at all that his car wouldn't start, or at least he didn't show it. It was just another part of his day. And he reminded me that differences should be celebrated. If this wasn't true, God would have made us all the same.
I'm so glad that I listened to God that day and set aside my to-do list. I ended up accomplishing so much more out on that street that day.
By the way-his name is Don, and I now consider him a new friend.
So what about you? Do you like meeting different people? Do you think it's OK to notice differences among each other?