Carol* is a member of our congregation who suffers from mental illness. She is super eccentric and has a sometimes surprising appearance. Yesterday was no exception. Her black hair had grown out from her most recent dye job and she sported about a half an inch of gray roots. She wore her trademark bright coral pink lipstick and floral old-lady dress. Over it all, she wore her faux leopard fur jacket. I'll admit that she was a sight, but I have also come to know and love her over the last six years. I know a bit about her life and her struggles. She can be mean (and kind of scary to the kids) when she forgets to take her medicine, but she can also be wonderful and interesting.
When Carol stood up to say the prayer at the beginning of the meeting, these two new girls looked at each other and snorted. I was furious. I wanted to lay into them and shame them for mocking a woman whose history gave her permission to be a little crazy. Why do we do that? Why do we think it's okay to make fun or judge another person, assuming you can figure them all out just by a single glance?
I am on my way to a new place. I certainly hope people don't look at me and think they know my whole story. I will likewise make my greatest effort to give people a chance before I decide who they must be. They may look like Carol and I may decide they are crazy, but they may also BE Carol and I would be remiss if I didn't give them a chance.
*Name has been changed.