Before I dive into this story, I want to defend myself. As a very spiritual being and proud Christian, I am open to others’ beliefs and appreciate that God has given me the chance to “witness” to others. However, I have never been one to “push” my religion and convictions on others. While these are my beliefs and I speak my heart, I still listen. My path is what I believe is right, but others might not believe the same way. And that’s okay, we COEXIST.
A few weeks, or maybe months, ago my husband and I were having lunch in our new city. We were enjoying a quiet lunch, but this guy kept staring at me. I am used to people staring, especially in deep southern cities, because I dress differently and guess stick out to people as a “hippie.” But I was always taught as a child not to stare, point, or ridicule anyone else, so staring bothers me. It is rude and feels judgmental. So here is this young preppy guy out with his girlfriend just blatantly staring at me. I mentioned to my husband a few times, “This guy won’t stop looking at me.” I could feel him judging me across the restaurant.
I also noticed a quiet, sweet woman sitting close to us in a hijab. He never once glanced at her or smiled at me as he was eyeing me down. He got up once they finish eating and left his phone behind. The kind woman near us pointed out he forgot his phone, and he picked it up and left.
Within 5-10 minutes, he came back inside. This guy walked past me, the person he’d been staring down for half an hour, and walked up to this Muslim woman. She was minding her own business, studying in a corner, and sipping on her tea or coffee. I smiled at her a few times when we would have eye contact, because that is how I connect with people. Sometimes actions are so much more than words, but this guy did not think so. He came inside to walk up to her and say, “I felt the need to come back to tell you Jesus loves you.”
I was steaming; I could feel the blood rushing to my face in frustration and embarrassment. She was obviously a religious woman; there are not many non-Christians down here. She kindly said back to him, “I know. Thank you. I know who Jesus is and believe in him.” The guy babbled some stuff about her being in a “headdress” and that he felt the need to come tell her that.
I understand his convictions and need to witness, but I did not support this act at all. Here she was minding her own business, and he comes to disrupt her time to tell her about Jesus. When he awkwardly walked out and I assume “felt like he did his job,” I was still on fire. Because she was the only minority and wore a hijab, he singled her out. Did he just assume because I am white that I am Christian? Did he assume everyone else in there was exempt because they were in the majority? I don’t know his reasons and I am unsure of his intentions, but I was not okay with this situation.
He was judging this kind woman, and me. But because I was a white woman, he did not feel the urge to share God’s love with me? He sterotyped this woman and embarrassed her in a public space. I felt her shame and was caught off guard by his abrupt “action.”
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I am taught to love everyone and pray for them. I have always felt very uncomfortable witnessing to people and talking about God’s love through Jesus Christ. Over the years, I have come to realize that speaking to strangers and pushing my beliefs on them does not bring them closer to God. It can even push them away. No, I believe our actions speak louder than words. Smile, pray, give, show kindness.
Before you decide to judge someone or witness to strangers, pray and really consider what your God asks of you. Are you doing this out of LOVE? Are you acting and speaking from a place of pure intention? Should you have a conversation with a person before just jumping into religion? I don’t know; I do not have all the answers. But I have been taught to lead life with an open-mind and open heart. Pray first, meditate on the action or words, and then go about your decision with patience, non-judgment, and most of all, LOVE.
Romans 13:10 “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Colossians 3:14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect harmony.”
Romans 13:7 “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
With God’s love,