Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pierced


My favorite gold drop earrings were the final bit of my getting dressed for church on Sunday morning. As I popped them into my ears, I was reminded of something that happened many years ago while on vacation with my family. I need to tell you what I was wearing - it's important to the story. It was a hot summer day. My outfit consisted of a skirt, flip-flops, and a tee shirt with a design and scripture that commemorated our church's 25th anniversary.

Anyways, my husband, my daughters and I were strolling through this small little town (our boys were on a missions trip in Brazil). There was a book store advertising home school supplies that caught my attention. I took the girls in with me while Mike went for ice cream. As I was perusing the shelves, the proprietor wandered over.

Shop guy: "You're a Christian?"
Me: "Yeah. (smiling)"
Shop guy: "Really? (frowning) I noticed that your ears are pierced. That's pagan, not Christian."

He proceeded to inform me what I would look like had I been a genuine believer. He went on to tell me that a group of teenagers wandered into his shop last night claiming to be Christians, too. They were part of some church youth group. But he sincerely doubted the authenticity of their faith. At this point, I was getting a bit nervous. The shop was small. I saw my husband standing outside with the ice cream, waiting for us. Shop guy followed my gaze.

"Is that your husband?"
"Uh-huh."
"He's wearing shorts. The men in our church don't wear shorts.
"We're not in your church."
"He wouldn't be allowed in the door."

"Must control fist of death" was the thought zipping through my mind. I put down the books I was planning to buy, and even though I was furious, said (without shouting, by God's grace alone), "You and I may look different from one another, but I will never allow anyone to tell me I do not belong to Jesus Christ." Shop guy just blinked.

Angry and dazed, I left that store. It felt as if I had been repeatedly punched in the head. I complained to the Lord as we wandered back to our car, "How could you have let that happen? I'm on vacation!" Just then, walking towards me was an elderly African-American woman, slightly stooped and leaning on her cane. And whether you believe it or not, this is true. She was wearing the same outfit as me--a skirt and the same celebratory church tee shirt, the church name being the only difference. We looked at each other. She laughed. "Well, look at us, girl", she said. "We're different. But we're the same. Praise God." She laughed again and went on her way. I was still in a daze, but less heart-sore.

So what did I learn from this experience?
1) hateful behavior is often fear disguised. I had to forgive Shop guy and pray for him. Pray that his faith would overtake his fear. My friend JoAnn at Ostriches Look Funny says it best - "square people always have a hard time spinning". He claimed to be a true believer, which would make him my brother. End of story.
2) No matter what, God has your back.
3) Sometimes ministering angels are disguised as little old ladies with cackly laughs.




Joining Emily today
Imperfect prose

27 comments:

amy said...

oh this was amazing jodi! i can't believe that guy... and yet, i've known so many like him. and the old lady. amazing. and everything. i am just a big bundle of smiles right now. and it's a good thing to remember God has my back. because my back needs Him. oh yeah, and I love your earrings. okay. that is all. oh yeah and one more thing. i have been told so many times that i'm not a christian because i have tattoos. i started just laughing at people. because i decided it's funny they think tattoos have anything to do with the soul. okay. now i'm really done. oh yeah, just one more... I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Jodi said...

Amy, I love you, tats and all.xox

Anonymous said...

Oh Jodi, what an amazing gift God gave you that day! I'm joining you in praying for that brother- I might not have been so vocal but, if honest, have certainly judged brothers & sisters in the past. Not so much since someone like you, I'm sure, prayed and God filled me with his humbling grace. I never would have recognized the angel with the cackly laugh if I hadn't been wounded first. sending hugs "Ethel'

Jodi said...

Ethel, I've sat in the judgement seat, too, more times than I care to remember. Someone must have prayed for me. Some lessons are hard-learned.

Anonymous said...

ooohhhh no....that man! how terribly sad, i can imagine how many people he's turned away from the Lord!

how cool about your "twinkie"...not a coincidence for sure!
love this story!

mountain mama

Brian Miller said...

cool moment with the lady...the bookstore scene, part of why i left the church at 16...i no longer fit...but god is bigger than that...

Rayanne said...

That was a great story Jodi. I'm so glad you were bold about Jesus Christ, many colors we are...and beautiful, the body of Christ!

Jodi said...

Brian, I'm sorry if hurt caused you to leave the church. I think every churchgoer can look back at a time when they've been hurt by one thing or another. Church is [imperfect] people. But even in our weaknesss, we need each other. The hurts as well as the heals help us grow, I believe. And no matter what, Christ died for his bride, the church.

Lauri said...

I love love love this post!!! Praise God for cackly old lady angels and the grace to recognize them when we see them! I'm constantly in awe of how God stretches and challenges my view of His family, His grip really is so much bigger then we give Him credit for. Sometimes it's hard to love our siblings in Christ, but as I said often in college "Grumpy people need Jesus too"

Jodi said...

Mountain Mama, *twinkie*, I like that.

Jodi said...

Rayanne and Lauri, yes and amen. And thank God for the stretches.

Amy Danielle said...

Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart... thanks for sharing your story. xx

Nancy said...

This is probably my favorite sentence in this post: "And whether you believe it or not, this is true." (Apart from JoAnn's quote, of course!) I just love when God does things we can hardly believe are true.

I'm also pretty much crazy-in-love with the comment thread following this post. I echo your answer to Brian--the biggest problem with the church is that I'm in it. And I can be such a dork sometimes. But God's grace is big enough even for dorks like me. Love you to pieces.

Jodi said...

Nancy, and me too. love you back.

Jodi said...

Amy, xx back atcha.

Brandee Shafer said...

Great story. Good for you for forgiving someone who didn't ask for forgiveness. Right thing to do. Hard thing to do.

Sara said...

I was wondering if you had met an angel unawares in that elderly lady dressed just like you. God is good. And He loves to surprise us with amazing gifts!

Tamara Murphy said...

wonderful story! so grateful for grace -- thanks for showing it and living it.

Leslie said...

"She laughed. "Well, look at us, girl", she said. "We're different. But we're the same. Praise God."

LOVE that. and your earrings.

Cindy said...

I so love what God did for you on that vacation...and that the ministering grace happened so quickly after the "shame attack"...I'm so glad I stopped by to "see" you today! It is hard sometimes to be the little old lady and not the man in the shop, but we are all growing in grace daily!

Misty said...

i love that you are assured in your salvation and that we can say together how much we love that grace is bigger than our ink or holes or stuffy righteousness. and yes the church is full of broken folks, that's for sure.

Alexis said...

I love this and I love that the most important thing in life...can't be judged by just looking. God is pretty amazing that way! Thanks for the watery eyes and goosebumps:)

Kit said...

That is the best. story. ever. Apart from your story of going into church and weeping. I love your stories, that are really God's stories, and I love you. So much!

Amy said...

What a story! It's so astonishing that these things happen (both the good and bad parts of the story), but they do. After a hard season at the church where I grew up, my parents made a conscious decision for us not to go to the Sunday evening service. Long story, of course. Anyway, one Sunday morning the youth minister came in to the high school department and in the middle of a rant declared, "Amy, how do I know you're a Christian when you're not even here on Sunday nights?!" Some people. It all worked out and only made me stronger in my faith. Needless to say, I can relate to your story:)

It's Just Dottie said...

So very,good ,my sister in Christ!
Blessings, Dottie

emily wierenga said...

oh my goodness. what would that man think of me with my tat, my stretched ears, my dreads and my facial piercing? if i'm going to heaven then everyone has a chance i guess :) i love that african american lady. i want to give her a huge hug. and you too.

Julie @ OnePennyJumblePacket said...

awesome story! i love your final response to that guy! in the end, i guess that's what really matters -- not what others think of us, but what we know to be true. just great!

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