My hubby, Paul and I were at a nice restaurant yesterday. The kind with cloth napkins, wonderful smells and soft music. When we first sat down I observed all the people sitting in my view of the room. I noticed one young woman. After a while I tried to describe her to Paul. She was a "type" to me. I imagined she might be a pastor's wife, definitely a church go-er. A bland type I had known back when Paul was a pastor and we had to go to meetings. Most pastor's wives aren't that kind but some are. They look like the life has been sucked right out of them. Like they never had an idea of their own. Always did what others expected of them. Back in my mother's day she might have been described as a milk-toast sort. I think they used that term for women too. I know they did for men. Anyway, she was vanilla to other people's mocha chocolate. She lacked personality. Flat. Kind of what Jackie O was first perceived as before she became Jackie O. As I described her to Paul I realized I had lived in too many different places and met way too many people if I was beginning to see them as "characters" instead of people.
Do you ever do that? Prejudge someone as a "type"? You know you ask questions like: What do you do? Do you have children? What church do you go to? How long have you lived here? Sure you are trying to get to know them but are you pegging them? putting them in a category? in a hole? In a neat little niche? Instead of seeing them as the complex, surprising, interesting people that they most likely are?
It's like when I was a child. I had Barbie dolls. Well, my Mom didn't like "Barbie" dolls so I had off brand "Barbies". Mom thought the real ones were ugly so I had off brand ones. And back than they were made of the same sturdy stuff as a real "Barbie" not the cheap hollow plastic kinds like now a days.
As I was saying I had my little "Barbie" doll family. There was Tressy, Tammy her somewhat chubbier sister, Pepper their younger sister with freckles and unruly hair that always ended up in a pony tail, and the real Ken's little brother Ricky with freckles and reddish brown hair. He came in a swimsuit with a cover up with stripes. He never had other clothes though the girls dolls had a variety. My mom made evening gowns for Tressy that were a wee bit tight for Tammy. They were so pretty. I always thought it was a little ironic since we were church going people who never ever would have went to a night club. But my dolls were all decked out in elegant evening wear. Back then people wore elegant evening wear to night clubs. Or at least in the 1940's gangster movies with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart that I watched that was what they wore.
I digress. I had this wonderful "Barbie" family which I still remember well this some odd years later. They were real and alive to me with personalities and quirks. Tressey had a button in her belly that you could press and her hair would grow and then you could press it and twist the hair and push it back in to look like you gave her a hair cut. To me they were real. I spent hours acting out their lives. My friends would sometimes play with me and we would dress them and undress them and fix their hair this way and that. They had lives! Glamorous, exciting lives, people!!!! Places to go. People to meet. I'm digressing again.....
Then I also had paper dolls. Yes, that is about all I remember about them. I know I had them. But for the life of me I can't remember them. There is a shadow of memory but they just don't come to the surface where I can remember any details. They were after all disposable. Unmemorable. Long gone. Unimportant in the scheme of things. Apparently uninteresting.
As I thought of the young woman in the restaurant last night. Did I see her as a paper doll type? Not important? Unmemorable? Did I peg her as uninteresting? Since I was just passing in a restaurant I guess it's not really important. Or is it? Was I sensitive to the Holy Spirit? What if I needed to send a quick prayer up for her? She may have needed it. I saw her more like a character in a book then a flesh and blood person.
I'll let you in on a little secret. I will admit with some shame on my part, I have written off the "paper doll" types before. At church, at work, at Walmart. Yes, me. My hand is raised. But sometimes to my amazement as I was around some of these types I found out they were not "paper doll" types at all!!! They had depth and character. They were like I heard someone say once. Still waters run deep. They were actually quite interesting. They had a story. They had full active lives filled with interesting thoughts, people, family....and real stories. Stories of victory and defeat. Love and loss. Passion and joy. Sorrow and excitement. Better than any on screen character I had ever seen. And I had wrote them off in my mind. Shame on me! I dearly, dearly love a story. And I almost missed theirs. Because I prejudged them as a mere "paper doll", milk toast type.
If you have stuck with me this long you might be wondering... so what? Well, I want to ask. Have you ever done this? And worse yet. Have you ever done this to yourself? I'm uninteresting. I'm a nobody. I'm a loser. I'm unimportant. What do I have to offer?
Well let me tell you sister or brother! God loves you!!! He doesn't see you as a paper doll type. Flat and uninteresting. He knows you are the real deal. A real doll. With clothes and a house and Pink cases and friends and a car and a place you live and stories to tell. No flat paper doll, throw away person. He loves your story. He was a part of it, even if you didn't know he was there. He never ever, ever writes us off. He sees us!!! He sees you!!! He sees the people he brings across your path. You never just melt into the crowd in his eyes. You are never a wall flower to him. And neither are they.
So friend, don't write off anyone. Don't miss their story. Don't miss your story. And remember the originator of all stories, God himself is interested in you. If you don't already know him, I urge you to get to know him and his story. It's awfully interesting...... and you are in it!