“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” –Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
I recently started a new job, and have been working to meet students and their families, in addition to getting a good start on the massive amount of work that I have to do. Preacherman and I work at the same school, so while students know me as “Mrs. Almond”, they also know me as “Mr. Almond’s wife”.
The other day, I was in the front office talking with one of our office assistants about a meeting that I was scheduled to have with a parent. While there, I see one of Preacherman’s students who was signing in with her mother. I smiled and greeted both of them, and the student smiled and waved back. Her mother asked her who I was, to which the student replied, “Oh, that’s Mr. Almond’s wife, she works here too.” The mother then replied, “Oh, I don’t know her”, and didn’t return my greeting or even continue to look in my direction.
I found this to be interesting and upsetting, mainly because I don’t believe that it is a requirement for me to know someone in order to return their politeness, or be polite in general. But I also thought it was upsetting because of the example that it set for her daughter. While I agree that we should teach our children to be wary of strangers, I also believe that we can teach them that we are kind and polite people.
However, this situation also made me reflect on how I treat people I don’t know. This parent had no idea that I am the person who will be working with her and her daughter for the next few years to ensure that she gets into a good high school and a good college. To the mother, I was just someone she didn’t know. But how often have I just dismissed someone I didn’t know, who was actually appointed to help me get to the next level? How often have I been less than kind, polite, or welcoming to someone who is new just because “I don’t know them”?
The truth is that it’s more often than I care to admit. But, another harsh truth is that if we are going to be serious about doing the work of the Lord, we have to be mindful of how we treat others- whether we know them or not. We are called to “love our neighbor we love ourselves“, and sometimes our neighbors are those we don’t know. It doesn’t make them any less deserving to be shown the love of God and his kindness as others have shown to us.
Being in a new city, there are many people that I don’t know, and after this encounter, I feel especially challenged to demonstrate the love of God and his kindness in my interactions with those I don’t know- new coworkers, the cashier at Walmart, the family in the aisle with me at the grocery store. If not me, then who? If not now, then when? More than ever people need to feel and see the love of God from and in others- and I want it to start with me.
Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25: 35-40 (NIV)
August 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm
So true about what you said! I went to the school that your husband and you teach at about 4 years ago. (Class of 2009). I have met him, his daughter, and others before. Long story but it is a small world.
September 3, 2013 at 5:57 am
So easy to follow conventions on how to react/treat people we don’t know, but I think there are so many opportunities for amazing interactions and growth when we extend ourselves for strangers as we would friends. Great post Mih Almond!
September 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm
This is very interesting!! Since I’ve been up North were people aren’t as polite, I’ve found myself noticing that I am super polite. Speaking to people I pass in the hallway or on the street and not necessarily always getting that back in return. What gets me is when I go to places where people should be cordial…like to the store or a restaurant…and people don’t say hey or bye and they barely want to tell you want the price is!! For a minute, I started to think that maybe I should assimilate…but you’re right. You never know who’s life you’ll have the opportunity to change!! Two different ‘new’ cities, similar experiences and thought processes.