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Seeing Through His Eyes

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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When a stranger spit on me because my skin color was different from hers, I wondered how anyone could hate another person just because of pigment differences.

When a young classmate of a different culture and race refused to shake hands with me for fear that my color might transfer to her skin, I was dazed and mute. How could this be when many of my Anglo friends often tanned to become my color?

And when urine was poured onto me and my light-complexioned classmate from the window of a San Antonio Riverwalk hotel room, we found ourselves staring into the face of bigotry.

Such incidences usually bring to mind and heart my mother's wisdom: "Hatred is a choice. Choose never to hate. If you choose hate, you will never progress and be happy. It will handicap your every effort to be successful in your Christian walk." She paused for emphasis. "NEVER choose hate. Hate is a disease that will consume you, weaken you, and eventually eat you up." Mama wasn't finished; I could tell by her face that more advice was to come. Her advice came in slow, calculated "sermonettes."

"Choose to remember that everyone has something to teach you. Sometimes the lesson is NOT to do as they do, to never stoop to that person’s brand of meanness or pettiness. Other times the lesson is to take another’s words or actions as an inspiration and impetus to do better—to combat ignorance, intolerance, and injustice.” She paused and smiled, recalling some of her hero's words. "Martin Luther King, Jr., said you have to be a drum major for justice. Not an easy thing to do—but doable!" I pictured a drum major high stepping on the parade route: a proud, defiant, joyful posture. Mama interrupted my thoughts with a message I had heard many times before. "God offers us precious moments, gifts of time. Each second can be a teachable moment with endless opportunities to see Him in others." She then reiterated what I knew but elected to conveniently forget. "Each person is a child of God, His special creation. Your job is to find some point of good in everyone you meet. After all, God does not make mistakes, and He certainly does not make junk."

My young mind wondered how in the world anyone could see something beautiful in a person who displayed ugly actions. Mama read my mind and was quick to respond. "Find something to appreciate in even the meanest persons. Let their determination to be mean be your determination to be positive! Beat them at their own game: kill them with kindness. Compliment them on the tiniest right thing that they say or do. Be bigger . . . never settle for less."

In my life work, I have used Mama's wisdom literally thousands of times. As an educator, I serve a population of the disillusioned, discouraged, disabled, and demanding. They come to us homeless, helpless, and hungry for hope. Sometimes they march through our doors so angry with themselves and the world that my first inclination is to run for cover. It is tough work—good, tough work; it is heart work, tough heart work.

As I learn to listen to others with whole-bodied appreciation and encouragement, I better understand Mama's advice to honor that point of good in each person I serve. And as you might have guessed, each time I embrace those moments to see God in another, I see myself differently as well.
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