On Saturday I attended a birthday party of a great woman in the Lord. While I was there people were mingling about both family and friends. Some were saved and some not. It was a great mix of people. They all made me feel welcome into their family.
After being there about an hour and meeting a really great couple who had just come back from a trip to Vegas to get tattoos, which were fabulously done by the way, by Hart and Huntington (a very cool shop in the tattoo world) another family member came up to the table I was sitting at to say hello to the people she knew there. I was introduced as, “This is my Pastor, Susan Young.” The woman said hello and was talking when all of a sudden in mid-sentence she said,
“Did you say Pastor?” The other woman said, “Yeah.” She exclaimed, “Oh Sh**! and I’m here with a beer.”
She begins to try to hide her beer behind her back as she apologizes to me and I see her discomfort. I smiled and quietly said, “It’s okay and you’re fine. The bible says nothing about drinking a beer; it’s being drunk which is the issue. I am not here to stone you.” She smiled and instantly seemed to relax, she still left quickly, but later came back and sat down to talk. It makes me think though, why the reaction? Pastor Doug says it’s because we have the Holy Spirit and therefore conviction follows. That is a part of it, but also it’s because
It makes me very uncomfortable when people feel weird around me. Did they have that reaction with Jesus? When he talked to sinners did they squirm and run and hide, or was he so captivating and loving that they accepted his invitation to talk, and to learn about his beliefs, and why he believed them. I am not talking about the demon possessed either, just normal people. Did the conversation and the man’s presence change them? I believe it did.
This woman’s language didn’t burn my ears. I am a word person, cussing doesn’t offend me when adults say it. The word CONVERSATE offends me more because it’s a non word! Her beer didn’t offend me. Personally, I think beer taste horribly and I don’t know why people drink it, the taste makes me shudder, but simply because it’s not my thing.
How many times have I walked into a room and the room hushed since I’ve been in ministry? It’s been too many times. Why? Because whatever it was they were doing they felt they couldn’t do in front of me. How many times has someone said a cuss word and then looked at me red-faced and said, “Sorry.” In those instances when they KNOW that I am a pastor and they are SAVED it’s a whole different ballgame. Then I believe it’s conviction but when it’s an unsaved person I wonder if they don’t know any better. The only thing they know is that Christians are judgmental. Why is it that people freak out when a person in ministry is near? Should they not be drawn to us by our love?
At the end of this encounter, I pray I showed Jesus to the woman with the beer, and as I left she asked where our church was located. Maybe I’ll see her someday. I pray I do. In the meantime, I was there to celebrate a birthday and be light in the dark, not by my judgment but rather by my love. Not by my tolerance of sin but my acceptance of those who don’t yet know Christ but will by my example.
I left the birthday party and went to the grocery store. As I was wandering the aisles two teens were in front of me. I have to admit, I notice where bodies are in relation to me but I don’t notice who those bodies are. In other words, I know people are in front of me but I don’t look to see who they are. This gets me in trouble a lot of the times. So the only reason why I know it was a boy and a girl was that the girl was cussing stupidly as only teens do. Every other word is a cuss word because they can. I noted that one of them used to come to church. I tried to make eye contact but he was having none of it. When the one who used to come to church finally said, “Hey, don’t cuss, that lady is a pastor”, now the talk got ugly as the words began to spew from this other teen’s mouth. She didn’t give a F*** who I was she was going to F-ing cuss if she wanted to– and well, you get the gist. Okay, in that instance it was a total different response from me. I didn’t even try to speak to them. Instead I began to pray for them. Wow, how incredibly sad that she despised authority and had not ever been taught respect for adults. I felt bad that their parents had been too busy to instill the moral character that it’s going to take to make it in society. They have a big wake up call coming. I did notice however that she wasn’t yet woman enough to face me. She said all of this as she walked away from me making sure she was yelling in the store and making sure all the people in the vicinity knew that she had been raised by wolves!
Two encounters, two different reactions to my presence, and I had two different reactions, all in the course of one day.