Her hair was dyed and styled with copious amounts of hairspray. Her eyeshadow was bold, what you could see behind the thick mascara, that is. She laughed loudly, dressed loudly, sang loudly. She was the opposite of most the women with whom I went to seminary.
As I sat down opposite her in a women-only Sunday School class at our new church, I decided she wasn’t very spiritual. I didn’t realize until later that I was making assumptions about her. Stereotyping, really. You see, I had never stopped to think how homogenous my seminary was. Sure, we had international students and a few students from varied ethnic backgrounds, but they were mostly quiet and studious, like me. After forty-one months on campus there, I had unwittingly internalized a spiritual ‘type’ for women.
Over the next few months, Cathy (not her real name) offered profound insights into our class study. She talked of past hurts and how God had used them to mature her faith. I watched her share generously with everyone around her, and my own family experienced her hospitality. She quoted Scripture and prayed earnestly.
But most importantly, Cathy loved. She loved hard. It was something I had forgotten how to do while my nose was stuck in a systematic theology book.
In other words, Cathy put me in my place, and I (thirteen years later) am still thankful for it. Sure, I had the classroom education, but she had the real-world experience our classmates needed more than they needed my historical facts and theological terminology.
Don’t misunderstand me. I relished seminary, and I am always thankful for it. God stretched and sustained me in new and wonderful ways while we were there. It just took me awhile to realize I inadvertently acquired some ‘notions’ at the same time. Cathy helped me expose them and gave me an example to follow—maybe not in makeup application but definitely in Christlikeness.
It’s easy to forget that God uses all types of people from all kinds of backgrounds. These days, it’s one of the things I love most about Him. (Read more about this in my post, Popcorn Conformity!) By this point, you’re probably thinking of the same Scripture passage that has come to my mind. Let’s read it anyway and think for a minute.
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. -1 Corinthians 12:14, 18-20
Question for reflection: Is there a sister-in-Christ about whom you have made assumptions because of her appearance or personality? Ask God for a special dose of grace to see her as God sees her, then examine your own experiences for where that type of assumption was planted in your past so you can remove it completely.
Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.
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