Every four months or so I post a serious blog post. I guess it was that time . . .
Sometimes going to church is not about the message from the pastor. Sometimes it is about an experience during worship. Or a brief encounter with an old friend. Or a woman in the front row scantily dressed in a white trash fashion.
Last weekend I noticed that woman. How could I not. Her bleached blonde hair was straggly, rooty, fried, and worn. Her white tank top was tight and see through revealing the fakies. Her shorts were so shirt I almost saw cheeks. And she wore heels. I saw her and thought Oh man, I feel bad for whoever is preaching tonight. What a distraction. I judged her. I was distracted by her.
And then I saw her get up a hug one of my acquaintances. An acquaintance I met a few years ago when I was teaching Bible study at my church. That acquaintance was from a local women's shelter that provides Christ-centered services and housing for women and their children who are homeless because of abusive relationships, addictions, loss of financial support, and other factors. Chances are good that woman in the front row was from that shelter too.
I felt convicted immediately. Don't judge a women by her hair. Or her outfit. Even if it is inappropriate.
We don't know what people carry around, where they have come from, what they are working on, where they are in their spiritual journey, what kind of home they were raised in . . . who they are. We don't know their hearts. The pain they carry around. The abuse they are running from . . . yes, she was dressed inappropriate for church, but she may have no idea. Maybe she had no one guide her in that department. Maybe that's all she has. Maybe it was her first time in a church. I'm guessing she doesn't have a mom who just took her on a shopping spree to Nordstrom.
Then the guest pastor got up to preach about redemption. He is from our church, but is currently serving in the Philippines with the Red Window Project - an organization that facilitates a process of economic, social, and spiritual reconciliation for survivors of trafficking and exploitation around the world. When this pastor was introduced, front-row woman hollered and clapped excitedly. As if she knew him. As if maybe she had been redeemed as a result of this pastor's work. Redeemed from human trafficking? I don't know. But that's the point.
I didn't know her story, her background, her lack of parental guidance, the abuse she may have faced . . . but when I saw her my mind went straight to Oh boy. How in appropriate is she?
I hope I see that woman at church again. I want to hug her. I want to find out her story.
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