“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself…” Leviticus 19:34
It was one of those hot, humid days when the weather man says, “A high of 89 degrees, but it feels like 99!” The automatic door slowly swished open as my squeaky-wheeled cart led me into the cool grocery store. I was greeted by the chill of the air conditioning, the welcoming scent of coffee brewing, and the smell of deli fried chicken.
As I mindlessly began my weekly grocery shopping, an overwhelmingly helpless feeling began to settle over me. A twinge of fear entered my heart. “What can I do?” I thought? “What can one, middle aged woman do to make a difference in this mess we find ourselves in called ‘racism’? How will they know I’m not one of those people who hate?” I am tempted to put my head down, make no eye contact, do my business, and move on. Yet I know that is not what God wants me to do.
This chaos that traces back to the beginning of time – division, racial tension, and angry, hurt people – It has always been around in one form or another. “Lord, what can one person do?” I pray. And a still, small voice whispers in my ear. The answer floods my heart and mind:
“Every human being longs to feel as though they are valued. Every time you interact with a person, no matter who they are, leave them feeling like they are valued. Look them in the eyes. Listen to them. See them.”
The knot in my stomach slowly disappears. I ask God to expose any hidden places in my heart that may harbor even the smallest hint of racism. I ask Him to give me a heart that values each human being that enters my life, no matter how brief the stay.
After placing the last item on my grocery list into the cart, I make my way to the check out line. Unloading the food onto the counter, I glance up and greet the young man who is bagging my groceries. I make eye contact and ask him how he is doing. He tells me about himself. He says it’s been a long day and that he’s tired. He tells me about his mom and about his dog. We laugh and I tell him I have a son about his age. I thank him for his work. We say good bye.
A middle aged woman and a 20 something, African American man had a short conversation about their lives. Both felt valued. Both looking past age and skin color.
God is teaching me that He can use me to make a difference – one valuable person at a time.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34