A few months ago, while I was working at the drive thru at my store, a customer pulled through and requested (this is putting it politely, he demanded) that I bring his garbage in through the window and throw it away inside. This is a pretty common request, but unfortunately it’s a health policy that we can’t bring in garbage. Yes, even if it’s one of our own cups from the day before. I’m always apologetic about this, but I am firm also in telling customers that this isn’t my rule, this is the instruction I’ve been given. I’m just the messenger. Well, this one particular customer didn’t just shoot the messenger; he glared at me and called me a bitch, looked like I was personally offending him when I read him his total and complained that it was ridiculously high as he flashed me his credit card with a Cartier watch strapped to his wrist, and huffily drove off in his black Mercedes without even a dime in the tip box. Sorry I couldn’t break the rules for you, Mr. Rich Guy, but name-calling is a little out of line.
Fast forward to now. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been really trying to pull myself out of the depressed hole I had fallen into. Between post-partum, to missing my (ex)husband on deployment, to then hearing that I’m getting a divorce and all that that entails, I kind of stopped taking care of myself. I wasn’t eating right, nearly forgot that lipstick and eyeliner exist, barely worked out, and wore a wardrobe that entirely consisted of baggy clothes over ill fitting sports bras. It was… not a good look. My hipster look went beyond chic grunge into straight up dirty and gross. (Side note: thank you to my friends who let me figure this out on my own and were very merciful to me while I dressed like a depressed lumberjack in all my plaid flannel shirts. I needed that grieving time.) But lately I’ve been trying to return to my old self. Just as King David got up, got dressed, and praised the Lord after his child with Bathsheba died, I’m getting up, washing my face, putting on some lipstick, and praising God.
Which leads me to a few nights ago at work, where I was admittedly a little overdone for a barista, dolled up in sparkling eyeliner with wings sharp enough to kill a man and a red lipstick that put Snow White to shame. And who should drive up to my window, but Mr. Rich Guy. And Mr. Rich Guy seemed to like what he saw. So much so that he winked at me, grinning at me and asking me how my day was going, and sort of tipped me, telling me to “keep the change, babe” from the bill he paid with. “Thanks, babe,” he said when I handed him his coffee.
I had to laugh as I watched him drive away. From “bitch” to “babe.” This guy had no idea that the pretty, young thing of July was the very same puffy eyed and tired girl he had been so rude to in May. Clark Kent’s got nothing on me in the secret identity field.
But this, of course, got me thinking. Why was it okay to be cruel to the makeup-less girl just trying to do her job, but you can be so much kinder to somebody who looks put together? And it’s not just Mr. Rich Guy. People almost everywhere are so much nicer to me when I’ve got a face full of makeup than they are when I just let myself look the way I feel. It’s ridiculously superficial.
And because God is faithful, just as I was about to get all in a self-righteous huff about how shallow the world is, He reminded me that I’m exactly the same way. How many overweight people have I assumed couldn’t be smart or ignored simply due to their weight (despite not being a skinny Minnie myself)? How many super pretty, put together, thin girls have I assumed couldn’t possibly be Christians because they “cared too much about their appearance,” only to be rebuked by their sweet servants’ hearts? How many people have I assumed must be nice due to their smiles, only to be burned later by the poison that sits behind their lacquered lips? Or how many people I’ve assumed must be mean or snobbish because of their quietness, only to be surprised by their depth of character and tenderness of heart?
We all make snap judgements about people, especially if they’re people we’re looking at in passing. This isn’t a new societal trend, every generation has been guilty of superficiality in some way or another. Even the prophet Samuel, when told to look among Jesse’s sons for the new king of Israel, found himself distracted by the handsome older brothers, assuming that Eliab must be the anointed one. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” (1 Samuel 16:7)
It’s hard to look at the heart of a person during a quick interaction at, say, a drive thru window. But even without seeing into a person’s soul, we still should treat them with kindness and goodness. Jesus even said the second greatest commandment was to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:31a) I’m pretty sure this means the people who are not physically attractive to our eye.
The passage that really comes to mind when I think of not being superficial with my judgements is James 2:1-9, which says:
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
Let us not show partiality or superficiality in how we treat people, strangers and acquaintances and friends alike. Let us treat everyone with love and kindness, and strive to show impartiality regardless of how a person looks. It’s a cliche to say that you must always be kind as you never know what battles people are fighting, but it’s also true. The way you treat people holds weight. How do you want to be known? As the person who was kind to everyone, no matter their physical attributes? Or the person who only showed deference to the faces you preferred? I want to act in the way Jesus encouraged His disciples to act in John 13:34-35. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I want to be the girl that demonstrates kindness towards everyone who crosses my path, who loves with a gentle spirit, and who shines forth Christ’s love even when I’m just serving coffee.
And Mr. Rich Guy? Don’t call women names. They’ll write blog posts about you.