Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finding God in Unexpected Places

Today Travis and I went to a Food Truck Festival here in Charlotte. If  you know me, you're probably not surprised because I love food, food trucks, and festivals. I was bursting with excitement. One of the great, and slightly terrifying, aspects of the fest was the seating. There were several tables and benches, but it typically meant that you would be eating with strangers. The New Yorker in me has absolutely no issue with sitting down next to people I don't know and being in my own world. I guess it's from so many years of riding public buses and subways. However, I married someone who loves nothing more than striking up a conversation with strangers, and they can spot him a mile away. While I went to pick up my turkey ribs and sweet potato fries, I left Travis with a stranger. When I came back it was clear he had made a new friend.

It turns out the other half that couple had also been waiting on food right next to me so the four of us enjoyed great conversation over our delicious turkey treats and fancy tacos. Later my friend arrived and at one point we were discussing churches and faith and other wonderful uplifting topics. It turned out to  be one of those magical Friday nights were the humidity forgets to stop by and you're stomach is hurting from good food and laughter. At one point the conversation shifted to music and while some people were talk about the changing landscape of music and the true definition of R&B, some others (not naming names) became overjoyed while discussing the Justin Bieber Boyfriend/NSYNC Girlfriend mash up. All in all, a quality discussion. When things became serious we talked of moments of injustice we've faced and Nicole, our new friend, said that because of who she is and who is in control she cannot get upset with people who try to harm her.She says she has her beliefs and she has to respect the beliefs of others because she knows that they probably think that they are doing what is right in their heart. She is from love and should be love. That's the light she wants to put out in this world. She has read the Bible many times and that is the lesson that she carries with her. She knows that she was once in a low place but in her lowest of lows God was there. That is her testimony and she shared it while wearing the biggest smile I have ever seen. It was love being shared and poured out onto us. And I was so thankful to have met her.

Before I started seminary maybe I would have missed out on this opportunity to hear another beautiful child of God share their story. It's possible I would not have been as open to learn from Nicole. It's possible that even it if was open, I would not have understood the points she was trying to share with us. The beauty of their 9 year relationship would have drifted over my head and I would have missed experiencing love and companionship and respect. Maybe without the help of beginning to understand God's character and instructions for us all I would have seen was their sexual preference. Maybe I would have allowed the fact that they are lesbians blind me to the truth of their testimony and love of Christ. Maybe I would have felt obligated to lecture instead of listen; to condemn instead of care and, quite frankly, to leave instead of love.

I don't know where you stand on the issue, and I don't plan to ask. I know where I stand and that's what I'm going to concern myself with. While I'm doing so, I will also concern myself with the challenge put before me several times in Scripture. To act justly and with mercy, to love my neighbors and do good to those who seek to harm me, to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, to be slow to speak and slow to anger, to stop judging because everyday I awake a sinner and go to bed the same, to be light in darkness, and to remember above all to put on love. I think if I focus on this list, and this alone, I won't have time to worry myself with much else. Loving others is a long, hard job but it must be done, and done well.

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