I knew they where christians shortly after I first saw them. The family of 4, 2 young boys..father and mother. What gave it away, where they carrying their bibles? Was their joy overflowing? Did they have their I love Jesus tshirts on? Maybe bible verse bumper stickers? Did the Holy Spirit jump when i saw them?
None of the above, I knew they where christians by their scowl….
We had taken the family to Lake George and the Shcroon lake area. We where excited from the break of the hustle and bustle to spend time with our boys. We decided it would be fun to visit the caves near Schroon lake. Clearly we where not the only ones, the caves where very busy that day. I had first noticed this family in the gift shop prior to starting our hike… I noticed them because it appeared the father was scowling at me.. the wife glaring. I looked around and noticed nothing amiss…assumed it was my imagination and went back to my family to enjoy our hike.
This family started before us and we ended up running into them again at the first look out point…. this time they again glared, but at my whole family. It was then I recognized that look and was transported back to my teenage years…………
I grew up in church. I loved being a christian, I was homeschooled, as where most of the people my age in that church. I recognized that look, because I had been on the receiving end of it all of my teenage years. I thought that was how christians greeted each other, with a look of disgust as if you where not worthy of their time…. you had to climb the christianity ladder to be noticed.
During those years I cried myself to sleep in pain and heartache almost every night because I wasn’t good enough. I recall an announcements that a leader was needed for children’s church, when I volunteered I was told someone else had asked to do it.. I found out this person didn’t want to but was told they where the only one who was available. I was no longer allowed to sing solos in church after singing Petra & Dc Talk ( not even the raps etc.. ballads!!) I received letters from “concerned woman” about my tight clothing ( I was a size 4 wearing size 12 hand me downs…not sure how that could be considered tight…skater/baggy was the style) My pain at that point was overwhelming, the hurt overbearing.
I didn’t see at that time that it wasn’t me that was broken, but the lens in which those people where using was.
Then at 16 I was at the breaking point, the starts of an eating disorder, suicidal, severely depressed……. I started martial arts. There from the first moment I was accepted by all the cool kids and all the not cool kids lol. Kids-adults instantly welcomed me into their “family” loved me for exactly who I was, even though our style was different, liked different music, had different interest. I was loved, for me. No need to prove myself, or “earn” a place…ironically the place where rank matters on the floor, it did not matter in real life. But this was “the world” I had been warned to stay away from. The “heathens” who did not attend my church and homeschool like me. The wicked ones who wore the wrong clothes. Why then could they love unconditionally?
I knew they where christians by the way they judged us. Then, I noticed the cross he wore.
The rest of our hike we passed them countless times, each time being treated as if we had leporasy or something. I did a “check up from the neck up” –we where not being rude, we where patient, quiet, respectful, no inappropriate joking, everyone was dressed appropriately. I am not sure what we had done to offend them. My son finally asked me, “Mom, why do they keep looking at us like that?”
I am blessed to say after my teenage years I have been part of 2 amazing church families who have loved on us like Christ commands. This small experience brought me back, made me think- If that is how my faith is represented, no wonder people would not want to be a christian. As I thought of it at this park, I was almost ashamed to have the same faith as this family who would, without knowing anything about us (even if they did know anything about us) treat us in such a cold fashion. I confess that at a point I was guilty of the “scowl” to those who had not yet “ranked” as a christian.
“My son finally asked me, Mom why do they keep looking at us like that?”
I believe it breaks our saviors heart that our churches do not love as he commands. That a teenage girl can find unconditional acceptance in a sport, but not in her church family. I strive to love, even when it isn’t easy. even when I don’t understand. When I find myself starting to cast assumptions or judgement – I recall that girl and her pain.
Whether you are a christian or not, I think the importance here is to remember, what we say and how we treat people can have an even deeper impact then what we see. Instead of pouring coals of judgement onto those you interact with, pour into them instead and help them to develop into the person they can be.
If you are searching for a church home that doesn’t judge and rank, I would love to have you join us at mine! http://www.fellowshipne.com is warm and welcoming and ready to get to know you….and not talk about you.