So, I recently posted my happy little Bob Ross essay (see My Dream--Adjusted) about loving everyone as yourself. (I probably made at least one person’s stomach turn.) And then, God read my post, chuckled, and sent me reminders that everyone means everyone.
First, there’s this woman I know. She’s kind of a mess. She used to be more of a mess, I gather, from the alarming little excerpts from her past that she occasionally drags out into the glaring light. So, all things considered, she’s doing much better now than she used to do. But she still struggles with a number of issues. And she calls me. Sometimes it’s not for days, even weeks. And then I am pulled (wriggling and squirming) back onto her radar, and suddenly there she is, at odd times, for no reason sometimes, and more often because she needs something.
Now, let me say that there are people in this world who consistently make us thankful for caller ID. You know exactly what I’m talking about; these are the few folks in our lives who drive us to pay that extra fee. I’ve revealed to you what a cheapskate I am…and yet I pay that stupid monthly charge just so I can see the caller’s name pop up on the handset. And I confess to you now that the last two times this woman has called me, I have not answered the phone.
I feel bad about it.** I do. I’m not sure what to do. I know I should take the call. But I also know that the call is likely to bring about a request of some kind. Nearly all the calls do. (I can't be certain, since she never leaves a message.) And for the past few days, with a snotty-nosed kid, a ceaseless cough of my own, errands to run, etc. I just haven’t felt like fielding the various needs that I know will be expressed if I click the Talk button and say “Hello?” very casually, as if I don’t know who is waiting on the other end.
So, there it is. I’ve told you. Now you know what a hypocrite I am. Because, surely, isn’t this person one of the “everyones” that I’m supposed to love? But wait—it gets worse.
I was in a store yesterday, glancing around me, and then my focus became riveted a few aisles over on a very tall, elegant man, dressed in a miniskirt and heels. And I tried not to look at him too pointedly, but I kept stealing surreptitious glances at him. I couldn’t stop. It was awful, the way I kept staring while trying not to stare. He’d gone to lengthy efforts to be a convincing female. The skirt, the giant heels, even pantyhose (a very tasteful nude shade—no tacky “suntan” for this fellow), some makeup. He was wearing a wig, too—not a bad one, but obviously a wig. Nice neutral eye shadows and lipstick, the skirt wasn’t too very short, above the knee but not utterly tasteless like some of the styles nowadays… And yet, he was a man. Inarguably, a male. And there he stood, looking through some ladies’ shirts on a rack, minding his own business. And I was kind of weirded out. I guess the old adage is true—you can take the girl out of the small town, but you’ll never get the small town out of the girl—and I can say with some certainty that I never saw a character like this in all my growing-up years.
I was mentally shaking my head at him, perplexed and a tad judgmental, and all of a sudden I felt an unmistakable nudge in my soul, and in my mind I heard the word “everyone.” That’s everyone, there, little Missy. Even a mammoth cross-dresser who’s searching for the perfect Christmas blouse. You don’t know him, his heart. You don’t know what he’s been through, whether there was abuse, whether his parents loved and accepted him… You don’t know.
And it’s true: For all I know, the respectable looking manly guy who was sidling closer from the other direction could run toward me, knock me down, grab my purse and flee, and perhaps this lovely, cosmetic’d fellow would trip after him in his huge high heels and knock him upside the head in order to retrieve my bag. It could happen.
I don’t know. All I know is I’m supposed to love them. No matter what. Boy, is that tough. For me, for them—for all of us. I’ve heard it’s possible—but we certainly need divine assistance to make it happen.
** BTW, this phrase—“I feel bad about it”—is correct. For any of you out there tsk-ing in my general direction and feeling annoyed at a former English teacher for misusing grammar, I say to you that the word “feel” is a sensory verb, and therefore must be followed by an adjective, just as any non-action verb would be. When you misbehave, you would never say, “I am badly.” Or, when describing an unflattering outfit, you’d never say, “I look badly.” That sounds as if you can’t see well! No action is occurring, so bad is correct. If I said I felt badly, I’d be accusing myself of fumbling, inaccurate touching skills.