I saw him out of the corner of my eye. Who the heck is that? What is he doing?
Tall, thin, wearing a red hoody and baggy pants, he was walking on lawns across the street from my house. He didn’t use the sidewalks or driveways. His gray, early 2000’s rusted Ford Taurus was parked up on the curb. He was black.
A few seconds later, I immediately saw how judgmental I had become in that moment. I saw his arm swing back and a cylindrical blue bag up on to a porch. He was delivering newspapers. This kid was working at 7 in the morning while I stood on my giant porch with my giant cup of coffee waiting with my son for his school bus. He got back into his car and drove on a little way, delivering another paper. Doing his job.
For all the work I’ve done on non-judgment. For all the relationships I’ve made with people not like me. It’s still there.
The guy walking toward me in a parking lot of obvious Middle Eastern descent – a quick flutter of anxiety through my body. The person who checked me out at the bookstore, the double-take questioning gender. The discounting of someone because they were too young or too old.
Whether it’s racism, sexism, agism, or another -ism, I’m still very much aware of how much work I have to do yet to be someone who loves others as I love myself. I still have a lot to unlearn, to weed out, to intentionally make different. I love with condition, I want others to assimilate to my standards, I often don’t accept people for who they are and where they are at in life. In my better moments, calm and with a moment to think and for realization, I am who I want to be – and I’m thankful for those moments. But too often, I am still catching myself and my initial reactions. This is a longer journey than I thought.
For me this isn’t a skin color or sexual orientation or a political issue – it’s a judgment issue, it’s a stereotype issue, it’s a cultural issue. For me, this is a love issue. For me, it’s a heart issue. For me, it’s a mind issue. For me, it’s a Jesus issue.