Friday, March 5, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

The wind cut through my North Face knock-off and stung my bare toes (earlier the day struck me as one for flip-flops) while I waited outside the library to meet up with a stranger.

Don't worry, I was meeting him for the first time to tutor him, not to take free candy.

A few minutes passed, and naturally, and selfishly, I hoped I would get an "I can't come" text so I could trudge back to my apartment and return the circulation to my toes.

My position near the front door allowed me to observe every person approaching the library. With each new face my mind would whisper a wish, "Please not him..." or "Hopefully it's that guy?"

My inner thoughts seemed automatic until an especially drab and awkward looking student came on his merry way to pursue his education via the rented reference. By "drab and awkward" I mean he was very pale and not exactly dressed the the nines. I interpreted his skin tone as malnutrition and wardrobe choice (it may not have been a choice) as poverty.

If I had a thought bubble over my head, any anglophone near me would have witnessed the judgments and assumptions forming so erroneously in my head. I classified each person's worth according to what I perceived to be their socioeconomic class, based on their clothes and otherwise appearance.

In those dark moments of selfishness I didn't want to have to tutor a smelly student or someone with a lisp. I didn't want this new person to be a creeper or extremely fat. Those characteristics make someone abnormal and weird, which typically leaves them at the back of the social line.

But Jesus healed the weirdos. He had supper with hookers and his best friends were outcasts. So who am I to not want to help a smelly kid with a little Spanish?

As soon as my thoughts about the pale person dissolved, I realized what I was doing and immediately reset my attitude. First of all, I was being hypocritical. I was wearing a too-short jacket from Wal-Mart and flip-flops in February. Who looks more poor? On a more serious note, I know better than to judge anyone on any basis, let alone one I basically fabricated via appearances.

Definitely not one of my finest mental moments.

What's the morale of the story? I consider myself to be a relatively well-rounded person with few vices outside ice ream and babies. Despite a lifetime of education, sermons and the occasional History Channel special, at age 21 I'm still bucking a very basic teaching of Jesus: don't let your pride get in the way of your ministry.

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