Spending Time with People Like Us

Read: “Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:10-14 (MSG)

Reflect: My family had signed up to be the evening hosts at the Family Shelter Network and I was nervous. I wasn’t sure my husband was going to make it home in time, I didn’t know if my kids would cooperate—especially if I ended up going alone, but most worrisome was that I wasn’t sure I would be able to relate to the homeless families we were spending the evening with. As I prepped the meal we were bringing, my apprehension increased. I knew I could cook and deliver the meal…it was the 3 hours of potential conversation
that intimidated me.

This was the first of several evenings we spent with families in that network 20 years ago. Social situations aren’t my strong suit but I can listen, and that’s what we did with multiple families who shared their stories. We showed up and loved them by listening, celebrating their joy and grieving their pain.

I’m now aware that some of my nervousness that first night came from believing we were different from these families; I had unknowingly bought into a judgmental mindset that wanted to differentiate “us” from “them;” I had a hidden desire to see differences so I would feel protected from the possibility of ever walking in their shoes. As we listened, we saw our commonalities. These were fellow humans whose circumstances were different. They were couples like us who started out with hopes and dreams. Parents like us who loved their kids and wanted the best for them. People like us who were deeply loved by God.

React: Spend some time with Jesus; ask him to help you stop looking for differences and surrender judgmental thought patterns.

Pray: God, thank you for loving us in all of our imperfections. Help us to be instruments of your love, peace, and grace to those around us.