Last night, Cana and I went on a date. We clipped some coupons from our trusty Entertainment book, got a babysitter, and set off to go watch the remake of Robinhood (which, by the way, was pretty good). On the way to the theatre, it started raining... really hard. I for one, was not looking forward to getting out of the car, for I was looking pretty fly with my hair all did. Cana was wearing a sleeveless dress and was already feeling cold. We stopped by the convenience store around the corner from the theatre, to get some candy and water to put in Cana's purse (is that bad? doesn't everyone do that?). We hurried out of the car, so as to not get too wet. As we approached the glass doors of the store, there came another man, shirtless, with tattoos, sandals with wet socks on. My first reaction, was to go into defensive mode. Can I take this guy if he intends to hurt my wife? Then, as my infantile stages of "enemy-love" self rose to the top of my psyche, I decided that I would open the door for the man, looking him in the eye with a smile, having him follow my wife in, even though it made me a little nervous. He just gave me a head jerk upward "'sup" and a smile, I'm was guessing, that was his way of saying thanks.
Cana chose skittles as her poison, and I, Reese's Pieces. We added a bottle of water and approached the counter. The shirtless man had a six pack of tall boys set there and was pointing out his brand of cigarettes to the cashier. We moved to the second attendant, only to find out that all the credit card machines were down due to the thunderstorm. I was pretty irritated, irritated because I couldn't buy my roundish bagged sugar craving. Then from our left, the shirtless man held out cash and said in an excited voice "I got it." "What do you mean? No." I responded, which was actually more polite than it was true. For, I knew exactly what he meant. He responded "you're good, you're good, just if you see someone else in need tonight, do the same." I was taken aback, but you know... I wasn't surprised. A shirtless tattooed man paid for our candy, and I really wasn't surprised.
When Jesus was asked "who is your neighbor?", He really didn't answer the question, but He told a story. He told the story of the good samaritan. A guy who the Jewish people where supposed to hate and supposed to be afraid of. When asked "who is your neighbor?", Jesus basically answered "the person that you are inclined to hate or be afraid of".
I've been trying to really practice enemy love and neighbor love for a couple of years now, and the more I pray for those who want to do me or my family harm and the more I love those that I am actually inclined to dislike, these characters at convenience stores and folks who smell badly or look dangerous aren't as repulsive anymore. I'm pretty sure I'm figuring out slowly that Christ really is everywhere, waiting to be treated with dignity. Not just in Haiti, or the poor, but everywhere. You see, I could speculate where this man got his cash. Or wonder if my skittles were bought with dope dealing money or worse. I could think about where tattoo man was going to party that night and with whom, what his family was like, how he grew up, what car he drove, and whether or not he received government aid for housing or food. Or I could see him as a neighbor, a human that is just as vulnerable to sin and hell, and just as close to forgiveness and salvation as I am.
The truth is, by God's goodness, Cana and I are becoming more and more convinced that people are people whatever their situation. They need love and dignity more than they need fixing or aid. To accept love from him, in the form of candy, gave him a confirmation of his dignity. It's in giving we receive. And I guess in a way, it's in receiving that we give... hmm...
In the end, I gave the shirtless guy a hug. Yes, I slapped his wet sweaty back with my open palms and gave him a true bro hug, just as I would give one of my own brothers. And I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty disgusting. But, I'm pretty sure not doing so would have been even more repulsive. I got some candy and moreover I got a lesson from Jesus. Thank God for shirtless tattooed man.