For some reason this memory popped into my mind today but when I thought of blogging about it, it seemed too personal. But, then I always think everything is too personal. Introverts, by nature, usually do. And in spite of that I will uusally end up telling a stranger who who cross my path everything. And, listen to their stories in the same way. So, I decided to share.
It was the first year I was married to my husband and we were going to a sort of Gospel prayer dinner thing for men and their wives which featured a speaker. The speakers were usually incredible and I enjoyed that part immensely. The speakers would be followed by a short prayer service. Herein lies the story.
On this particular occasion I wore an outfit that in retrospect might not have been the very best for the occasion but then again - it certainly wasn't the worst! After all, I was wearing hose and modest heels. I also had on this skirt that was a little short. It was pink pinstripe and I wore it with a black turtleneck and it had a matching little jacket. Think Doris Day but a little shorter. Ok, maybe extra, extra shorter. However, it was one of husband's favorite outfits on me and our going 'out' if you will was not a frequent occurrence. The Gospel dinner was a date'ish kind of outing. He wore a suit, so I wore my suit. He was happy. I was introverted but happy to be with him and him happy.
We enjoyed the evening but I noticed a few 'looks' as I was coming back from the restroom to the table. Those kind of, 'Oh my, my!' withering looks. That's probably the first time I thought, 'Ok genius, this might not be the best little suit to wear to the gospel dinner.' Husband was all smiles. I suddenly wanted a pair of overalls.
At the close of the evening we arrived at that great prayer moment where people would (yes, if you are not from the south and have never been to a gospel type of meeting skip this part) would lay hands on you and pray. I remember distinctly one of those people saying, "God, please let her receive." And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was because of my skirt. Now, you should know I'm not that tall. My twelve year old niece has more leg than I do. So I couldn't be showing a lot of leg I didn't have. And all that going on back there was in no way hanging out. Still . . . that was their prayer. The people praying were judging me in their offered prayer. As if they needed to intercede on my behalf with God. Oh what testy, troubled waters that is.
They meant well. They really did. But, don't we always. Or, at least frequently. They had no idea what my relationship with God was. Or that during that season in my life I fasted a lot for the state of the whole world. (Which may have been why that skirt looked so good when I think of it.)
And I wonder how often we look at someone and think, 'They're rich, they don't need prayer. They're poor and they choose to be that way. They're homeless because they are weak. They are guilty, they are illegal, they are - other.' Other than me, than us, than our tribe.
As this year comes to a close and I wrap up 2013 and move into a fresh, New Year, I hope that the lesson I learn from the memory of that experience is that when my eyes tend to look at someone and begin to ask God to please let them see the wrong of their ways, that I'll focus more closely on the wrong of mine. That I'll be able to stop praying with my mind, but pray from my heart instead. That I won't be moved to pray for the perfect because they don't exist.
Because trust me, If judgement ruled the day,I would have been stoned a long time ago. And, I can live with. What bothers me is how many rocks I would have thrown at the innocent.