This was written before our recent move, thus the reference to our old and very diverse Dallas Walmart.
When Isaac and I started going to Watermark and my heart was all in a tumult over what I believed and if I even wanted to sit in a church filled with preppy young white Americans (just bein' honest, ya'll), I took heart in noticing the same guy on the front row every week. He was older, white-haired, rough-edged, and delightfully enthusiastic about, well, everything. When I saw the video of his baptism it made me get all teary because I'd never seen anyone come up out of the water with such a sense of utter joy and triumph. Our church is fairly reserved, but Freddie is up there with his hands raised every week. He's just there, just himself, humble and honest.
Despite that, I never knew Freddie's story till a couple of weeks ago. Pretty stunning. Turns out he actually became a Christian only a few weeks before I first saw him, and he was baptised the first time I was at a Watermark baptism service.
Freddie's Story from Watermark Community Church on Vimeo.
I was at Walmart the night after I first watched the video, and the lines at the checkout counters were the longest I've ever seen. I probably waited 20 minutes checking out. As I pulled my cart towards a counter, two carts converged in front of me. One was a young Chinese couple that was my age, and the other was two young black women. I didn't see what happened or who got there first, but when I pulled up the accusations started flying. The two sides were spitting mad, both convinced the other had cut them off and pushed them out of the way. Voices were raising and everyone turned to stare.
Our Walmart is the most diverse shopping place I've ever been to. Around me were Hispanic families, veiled Muslim women with their children, middle aged white folks, Indian check out guys, and the list goes on. I love the diversity, but at that moment I realized how much it's a tinderbox for racial tension.Almost everyone around me probably had experienced discrimination at some point, and almost everyone was a minority of some kind that is often misunderstood and sometimes mistreated.
The young black woman began yelling to her friend in the line next to her that there was no way she was going to let these "chinks" cut her off like that. The young Chinese guy was seething and his girlfriend continued to insist that it wasn't right. The two girls laughed at them and continued to loudly talk to their friend in the next aisle, who could apparently sense that nothing good would come out of the situation and so was begging them to not talk to the Chinese couple and to join her in the other line. When the line moved forward the two girls pushed forward, and when the young Chinese guy pushed his cart forward he was sworn at and threatened that if he dared knock his cart into her.....
At this point a white cop came up and warned everyone that if everyone didn't lower their voices and calm down, none of them would make it to the end of the line. When he walked away the two girls snickered at him and I watched as they checked out, constantly talking about and laughing at the couple behind them, who now stood silently and angrily, her hand gently on his arm in a quiet attempt to calm.
I was so mad. For all I know, it was a real misunderstanding as to who actually got in line first. It was probably no one's fault. But what I DO know is that it's never okay to call someone racial slurs. It's not okay to mock someone and laugh at them in scorn. EVEN if you think they've wronged you.
I had no conclusion at the end of it, I just left feeling so discouraged.
Years ago I wrote this post about meeting people on the bus during my year and a half of being dependent on the Dallas public transportation system. I mentioned a guy with a degree in Physics that I chatted with about the theory of Intelligent Design. I ended up talking about my church, and the last time I saw him he'd visited and that totally surprised me, given my own hesitance about church at the time.
Last week my husband was helping at a program at that essentially just holds a discussion time for skeptics. When he struck up a conversation with one of the other leaders he recognized Isaac's name and asked if he was married to Kacie. Turns out it was my bus friend from years ago, who now is a Christian, a member of our church, and actively engaged in theological and philosophical discussion.
When Isaac told me I was just.... floored. I so often assume that who people are and what they are like when I meet them is really what they want to be and how they will stay. The older I get the more I realize people change, and best of all the hound of Heaven is actively pursuing hearts.