“Nice Chat,” I mumbled under my breath on my way into church on Sunday. After dropping my Mom off at the front door, I had parked the car and was walking down the steps toward the entrance. A youngish-looking lady was walking down the steps right beside me. “Good morning!” I chirped in my most Christian voice. No reply. “It’s great to finally have some sunshine, isn’t it?” Again, nothing. Quickly my sunny comments turned to snarky thoughts. I couldn’t believe that this woman was being so rude. She wasn’t even distracted by her phone, or another person; she simply wasn’t replying to me.
I found my seat beside Mom, and was immediately mortified as I saw the other lady find her seat – her place among friends in our deaf congregation. She rapidly signed greetings and hugged them as she found the spot where she would join them – us – in worship. She hadn’t ignored me earlier as we entered church; she simply had no idea that I had even spoken to her. It was a realization that didn’t escape me. In fact, it continued to haunt me throughout the message.
Our deaf congregation is one of the things that I love about our church. I love that they are fully engaged when they interact, using their other senses for awareness. I love that, rather than clapping when they celebrate, (which they can’t hear) they simply raise their hands and wiggle them with glee. I love the beautiful sign language that flows in their singing. I love that they have chosen to share life with us, beyond the noise. And on this day, I was humbly reminded to be more aware, intentionally choosing to share life with them.
After the service, I did make sure to find the young lady and greet her warmly with a handshake and a smile. As far as she was concerned, it was our first interaction of the day. But what an incredible reminder that things are not always as they seem. Who else have I offhandedly passed judgement on without realizing their circumstances? What else have I assumed to be true, only to miss the real truth altogether?
For now, my new mantra is to pay attention – truly pay attention – to those around me. No more jumping to conclusions; no more drive-by verdicts from me!