Monday, October 12, 2015

Calling Folks Names vs Calling Folks By Their Names

A car pulls in. It has proper hangtags. A youngish fellow gets out, walks into store. He is not using walking sticks, crutches, walker, round about. etc.

Hidden from your view are important facts. The young man is at the front end of a cycle of medicines that allow him to walk with seeming ease despite serious cardiopulmonary disease that is congenital and that, ultimately means a heart transplant to survive, down the road a few more years. 

Your reaction? 

You couldn't see his heart, could you? You couldn't see the fluid accumulation around it. 

You just made your damn judgmental call. 


It's a Wounded Veteran parking space, adequately marked with a sign.

A car pulls in. It bears a state license tag for purple heart winner. A woman, in her late 20s-early 30s, walks into store. No walking sticks, crutches, walker, round about. etc.

Your reaction?

Unbeknownst to you, she served in Iraq, or Kuwait, or Afghanistan. A mortar round struck the base. 

Most of the shrapnel could be gotten out, but several pieces remain behind to do things like hurt like hell when she walks, and complicate getting through security. She won't ever have an MRI because of the metal that couldn't be taken out. 

You couldn't see the scars that covered her now healed physical wounds. You couldn't see the open wounds that living through that experience left, including her own losses, and the loss of friends, fellow soldiers.  

You just made your damn judgmental call. 


Many will say, none of my business, not all handicaps are visible, nor are all war wounds obvious.

But a voluble group makes noise. Often such folks are in the business of calling cops to enforce the handicapped parking, or reporting what they consider to be the abuse of the Wounded Veteran parking.

If your heart is pricked, let me ask you to consider something a bit more.

You don't know almost anyone's story. Oh, sure, there are family members about whom you know stories and about whom, in your judgmental way, you've told your share of stories. A couple friends, from school, or from work, you think you know them.

You don't know that the greedy, grasping employer grew up with a dad that never held a real job. Oh he worked ... scams. Selling fake "Rollixes" etc. But you didn't know that the greed of today grew up from seeds of family uncertainty, never knowing if dad would provide the needed things.

You don't know that the girl that everyone calls a slut, the one who had sex, supposedly, with every member of the football team, was abused sexually at a young age. That she was sexualized by that crime. That she then became the object of the abuses of many, many men.

You don't know that depressed lady actually has an organic disease that her body is fighting. You don't realize that the betrayal of one's body to one's expectations can induce depression. You don't know that her medications suppress the creation of serotonin, which many link to depression.

You don't know that that guy you've been calling faggot struggles every day with an enemy, an unwanted desire, and would like nothing better than to be what you call "normal." You don't know about the sexual abuse he endured that worked into his mind and heart, or the absent father he keeps searching to find.

So, maybe it's time to stop.

Stop calling people "sluts."
Stop calling people "greedy bastards."
Stop calling people "queers."

No. I'm not asking you to "normalize" sin. I'm not asking you to stop reading, accepting, and following God's Word.

What I'm actually doing is asking you to answer, with your treatment of others, that ever-so-popular question -- that one too often reserved to buttons, Bible covers, and bracelets -- What Would Jesus Do?

Most everyone has a name. Most everyone would tell you their name, and you could learn it just by offering yours and opening your heart and life, extending your hand, to them.
Jesus spoke to people, not just at them. This fact is evident in how He is reported to have responded at the sorrow of those who mourned Lazarus: He wept. Leave aside the theological dispute raised by some over whether He wept for their lack of faith. He wept.

Not just that. When the crowd swirled around Him, there was that one intimate moment of contact, "Who touched me?"

"Woman." "Man." "Peter."

Not "slut." Not "sodomite." Not "doubter," not even to Thomas.

This note?

It's written by a broken man. It's written by someone who grew up being called names. 

It's written by someone who learned what it's like to be on the other side of harsh and thoughtless judgments, and on the receiving end of unbounded kindness, grace, and mercy.

If you think you make the world better by calling people names, rather than calling them by their names, well, it's just time for you to put your phone away and don't do any calling at all.

Not till you figure out just how dark your own closet is, and where the light switch is located on your soul.