I recently finished reading Same Kind of Different as Me. If you haven’t read it, you should. It will challenge you. It will change how you look at people.
It will haunt you.
One quote that continues to echo in my mind’s ear is from Denver, a homeless man who has recently become friends with Ron, an international art dealer:
“Most folks that serve at the mission come once or twice and we never see em again. But you and your wife come ever week. And your wife always be askin everybody his name and his birthday…you know, gatherin information. Now just think about it: Why would anybody be wantin to know a homeless man’s name and birthday, if they ain’t the CIA?” – page 105, emphasis mine
Alongside that quote, I keep hearing Jesus asking Simon the Pharisee, “Simon, do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44) And I wonder how many people I neglect to really see. What if we really saw the people around us instead of just the labels they carry? What if we really got to know our neighbors…their names, their birthdays, their dreams, their passions, what makes them tick? What if, instead of an inconvenience looking for a handout, we saw a homeless man as the child loved by God?
How many times have I looked past a person simply because of their labels? How many times have I forgotten to actually see the people in front of me? I think a lot of people are like that. Why else would Denver have been surprised to be asked things as simple as his name and birthday?
I pray that God opens our eyes so we can see the people around us the way He sees them. I pray that God opens our hearts so we can love our neighbors the way He loves us.
What can we do today to stop labeling people and start SEEING them?