For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 KJV
I’m happy to introduce you to Hope Venetta, woman of faith and blogger who shares her journey through her posts at hopevenetta.com. I “met” Hope via social media and COMPEL, then had the pleasure of connecting with her in person at the She Speaks 2015 Conference in July. She has a beautiful spirit, and her words are very life-touching, I’ve found, particularly as they relate to ministry. I’m glad to feature one of her posts as part of the New Day September series on the highlights of She Speaks….
Me? A Snooty Church Lady?
Have you ever been humbled by how God chose to show you your sin and bless you at the same time? One Sunday after church, my husband Tom and I debated whether it fit into our budget to go out for lunch or cook at home. We are trying to save money and pay down some debt. Clearly going out for lunch doesn’t exactly fit with that plan, so after going round and round about being disciplined, and saving, and Dave Ramsey, we somehow ended up at a sandwich shop. As it turned out, we were in exactly the right place for a divine appointment.
When Tom placed his order, a tough looking woman standing behind me in line tapped me on the arm. As I turned towards her, she offered me a slip of paper. Now I usually don’t take things from random strangers, but I felt a prompting to accept it from her. I was fully expecting it to be an advertisement for a local business, some kind of donation request, or information about an event at a nightclub. It was none of those. It was a coupon for a free sandwich. When I realized what it was, my every intention was to hand it back to her. People in my city can be very neighborly, but I didn’t want to accept this random act of kindness from her. Not her. Not this woman who looked and sounded like a cast member of Orange is the New Black. I took a breath, ready to tell her why I couldn’t accept the coupon, and for some reason I couldn’t speak. Her face that looked as if she had indeed seen rough times, also looked so pleased to have been of service. I couldn’t take that away from her by refusing her kind gesture.
As I ordered my sandwich, something rose in my spirit. Something in me wanted to reach out. I wanted to engage her, to start a dialog, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t seem to get over myself and find common ground with her. Dressed in a hoodie and jeans, with thick cornrows in her hair, I am ashamed to admit that I judged this woman by her dress and demeanor. As I listened to her conversation behind me, I actually had the audacity to think I was better than her because of my cute church outfit, my knowledge of correct grammar usage, and my own perception that my rank was above her in the socioeconomic strata. To me she looked like and sounded like a thuggish woman who was straight out of the cast of Orange is the New Black. Yet, God was using her to meet a financial need of mine by covering an unplanned frivolous expense. Because of my pride and snooty attitude, I could scarcely look her in the eye as I thanked her. I actually thanked her several times, and not once could I make an eye to eye connection. So much judgement in my heart. Even though I was the one being helped.
Tom and I left the sandwich shop and went to a park to eat our lunch. Before we said grace over our meal, we looked at each other across the picnic table and marveled at how God is proving himself be our provider. Yes, this time it was only the cost of a sandwich, but that is beside the point. It seemed like a gentle reminder from God that He is who He says he is and that He does not change. That He is a provider. That He is not a respecter of persons. That His blessings come in unexpected packages – even in the form of thuggish looking women who look and sound like they just got out of prison.
It is clear that I have more work to do to overcome pride and a judgmental spirit. I thank God for the opportunity to grow and become the woman He created me to be. I am also thankful that He is teaching me what a blessing it can be to allow others to express their gifts. By me accepting that coupon, it allowed the other woman to experience generosity. Despite my preoccupation with my own mental baggage, I did notice that she had a look of self-respect and the good kind of pride, knowing that she was helping someone. I could not let my self-importance take that away from her by rejecting her offering. Who knows, perhaps that was her sacrifice to God. Her giving of herself with no expectation of a return. God is amazing and can use all kinds of circumstances to accomplish His purposes.
He is so great, and I am so blessed that He loves me and has adopted me into His family, flaws and all.
How about you? Have your blessings come in unexpected packages?
Hope is a follower of Christ, wife to Tom, fledgling gardener, and all-around, wannabe, domestic diva. She blogs about living an authentic, Christ-centered life at www.hopevenetta.com. (Photo credit: Melchee Johnson)