I Wasn’t Born Yesterday…

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Walmart Parking LotI’ll start by saying that I am not heartless.  I totally understand that we as Christians are supposed to take care of people in need.  However…

I was raised with an understanding that because I am a girl, I always need to be aware of my surroundings.  There are bad people out there that have every intent to hurt people.  Girls are a prime target because generally we are physically weaker than men.  So, I always make a point to be aware when I am alone or just with my boys.  I do feel much safe when my husband is around because, well, he’s physically intimidating… I am not.

That being said… this is what happened to me yesterday.  I’m sure it has happened to some of you, too.  I guess that people think I was born yesterday or stupid.

I went to Wal-Mart.  While the Wal-Mart experience is not something I revel in, I was almost giddy to be there, grocery shopping, without my boys.  I know that you moms know what I mean… a true luxury to grocery shop without children, even if it is at Wal-Mart… with the “Wal-Mart people.”  Anyway, it was thundering outside.  I was trying to get my register-challenged cashier to hurry through the process so I could beat the rain.

That wish didn’t work out so well.  So, I made my way to my car, umbrella in hand.  I get to the car and start unloading my recyclable bags.  Holding my umbrella with one hand unloading with the other.  Mind you, to be safe, I already put my purse in the car with the groceries… trying to be smart in case someone pulls it out of the cart while I’m pre-occupied.  I know, I’m a genius. HA!

Out of no where… because I was paying attention, I thought… this man appears right next to me.  Now, he wasn’t threatening in appearance.  He looked sad, missing some teeth, seemed nice enough… but he started with a story about needing gas money.  His car was “just right there”… he’d run out of gas… his daughter was at Shands… and he just had to get to her… could I help him out?  Um… sorry, no.  I lied and told him I didn’t have any cash.  He walked away.  I felt no conviction from God that I had not helped him.  I finished unloading and got in the car.  The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got.

Here is my reasoning… what is the true likelihood that he was on his was to Shands? I mean, he ended up in the far side of the Wal-Mart parking lot and perfectly in a space.  He wasn’t on the side of the road… or the interstate.  And, giving him the benefit of the doubt… ok, he was running out of gas, wanted to get off the road so he pulled into the nearest place he saw… PROBLEM… if he would’ve turned the other direction, he would’ve turned into a GAS STATION.

So, my word to the cooks that want to approach women that are alone to beg for money… leave us alone, we aren’t stupid.  I know that you might find some that will just throw money at you so that you will go away, but not this one.  Come up with a better story.  At least I would appreciate that you thought I was intelligent enough to not use the out of gas line.  I’m still not giving you my money, but it might not have irritated me so much if you would just say, “I need a beer.”

I’ll wrap up this rant by just saying to all my women friends… be aware of what is around you… don’t believe every sob story you hear… it’s ok to help people.. it is also ok to say “no” sometimes.  Think about your situation.  If you open your purse to give a few dollars, will they see the rest you have, snatch your purse and run?  You never know… pay attention!

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” John 24:7

Freedom in Worship…

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Photo Aug 12, 6 49 43 PM

My choir has been doing a devotional called “Will You Worship?” by Ray Jones.  It’s a great tool.  Look into it.  Anyway, the final day of our devotional was yesterday.  Our worship leader planned a casual worship night to conclude the study.  We had a worship leader from another church come, a choir from a different church (shown above), and watched the final video from the book.  It was a great night of singing… worshiping… praising.

Let me back up a bit… I grew up in a Southern Baptist church that was very… um, stiff.  There was no arm raising, swaying… nothing other than standing there, still while singing. Although not said (to me anyway), it was an unspoken rule that you just don’t do that.  As I’ve become an adult, in a different church, it has taken me years to become comfortable in my own skin while singing.  I say singing, because “worshipping” is a whole other ball game.  I had to be ok with the eyes of the congregation on me while in the choir loft… trying to keep my mind off wondering if they were upset because I was swaying or clapping or just plain moving.

I have always wanted to go to a black church, just to experience their worship.  I’ve never been… mostly because I’m scared that they will wonder what this white girl is doing in their church.  (Although, I’m truly sure they wouldn’t care.)  I have seen black choirs on TV and in movies and I am… well, jealous of how they can just let it go.  They sing with such joy, such freedom, such life!  I have always wanted that… to be a part of that.

My current church is making progress.  Mind you, it’s never been “stiff,” but we definitely have a long way to go in the “free” category.  I have grown in my relationship with Christ over the years.  Now I am able to “worship.”  I can sing while truly praising God for what He has done in me and just for who He is… period.  It is hard to look out in the congregation and see stoic faces… some with looks of disgust because they don’t like the music choice… they don’t like that some of us are swaying or clapping… they don’t like that the guitar/drums are so loud.  I wonder what the heck they are going to do in Heaven?!

Anyway, last night I had a fantastic opportunity to sing in my praise team with the choir (pictured above) singing behind us.  At one point, I just turned around to face them while we were singing.  I told them later that I did this because I could feel their energy behind me… I wanted “in” on it… I wanted to breathe in what they had… it was awesome.  Some of them may have thought I was a little weird in the moment, but it didn’t stop them from praising God.

I guess that sometimes we have to be the change that we want to see.  I think I try.  I try to be free in my worship even if sometimes I’m doing it nearly alone.  If I am singing, I am worshipping… with every part of me.  I give it everything.  I think some people aren’t a fan of that… but that’s not my problem.

As we were leaving the event last night, I gave hugs and told the group “thank you for sharing with us.”  I was walking out the door and heard… “Sista………..Sista”  I turned not knowing if someone was trying to get my attention… to find that she was.  Side note… we white Baptist ladies may call each other “my Sister in Christ,” but not “Sista.”  There was something so comfortable about how the word came out of her mouth.  Like I was truly part of her… bonded, eternally.  Inside I was stunned that she would consider me as her Sista.  She asked me my name, I was still in a little shock and forgot to ask hers.  She said something profound to me and as soon as I turned away I cried.  She said… “what is in you comes out through you… just open your mouth… it comes out… you are filled with light and love and I see it in you.”  For a complete stranger to say that… to see that… in me.  Wow!  All I could do was hug her before I turned and cried.  I wish I would’ve gotten her name… I wish I would’ve shared how much the evening meant to me… Maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity.  If not… I’ll at least meet her again in Heaven.

My prayer is that we as choir members will give God all we have each time we sing.  Don’t be afraid to clap… don’t be afraid to sway… don’t be afraid to lift your arms… or close your eyes.  Don’t worry about the nay-sayers in the congregation… worry about giving God all that He deserves.

“I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Psalm 146:2