Since January 2012, I have been traveling weekly to a clients office and I stay in a hotel not even a mile from the office. I typically eat dinner at the same Italian restaurant, Roma's. Why? Because they treat me well!!! They serve dinner until 9.30pm...no matter what time I come in, even if it is 5 minutes until closing, they will seat me and are kind and don't act in a hurry. They fix whatever I want over veggies and omit the pasta. If they are a BYOB place, however, because they know I travel and I don't want to buy a bottle and drink the whole thing by myself, they will give me a glass if they have some - on the house! They are interested in how my work project is going and how life is with me. The owner will sit and discuss business, employee issues, family and life with me. The waitresses are sweet...they all take really good care of me!!! And let me not forget to mention that their food is delicious! Absolutely yummy!!!
Tonight, I had to opportunity to make an observation of the people eating there. As I walked in an Amish couple with a young kid and probably a mother or mother in law were making their way out of the restaurant. As they were walking out, each of the adults looked me up and down and I could sense complete disapproval. I was a black 3 tiered ruffled skirt with high heels and a dressy creamy white and black shirt that is about the length of my fingertips (actually the one I am wearing in my profile picture in this profile photo of me here on my blog). I smiled at them. I got no smile back, only a cold stare and eyes that didn't want to make contact. I am not sure why, but it really struck me tonight so strongly, but it did...how is it every Amish person I have met is typically like this? Maybe you have had a different encounter, but I can't remember one.
Roma's allows you to pick where you want to sit and I usually pick a booth, they are so much more cozy to me then tables. I opened my menu but really wasn't paying attention. My mind was on these 4 people I just saw leave the restaurant. My heart was hurting for the lack of contentment in their faces, for the cold stiff lives they are indebted to feel they must live. What makes people like that feel so cold to others, whether believers or not, just because they don't dress as they do? What makes them not be able to show God's love? What makes them not be rejoicing in the fact their sins are forgiven? What makes them not be able to radiate being blessed individuals? Yet at the same time, I had feelings of knowing exactly what this bondage is like. I have worshiped and met with Christians my entire life who are like this. They state they don't believe just because you wear pants that you are not a Christian, but the way they treat Christians that do is a complete stark opposite example of that. They make comments that they have walked away from God because their dress has changed. They question that they really can be saved, yet they teach that you can't loose your Salvation. It is a mixed bag of concepts and if you step back and reflect on it all logically, you will find things don't align up. I have had people say to me, no they really don't Misty, you just think that. Really? A message was given a year ago about how their was a lady who was one of the other minister's Mom's and how she wore pants her entire life, painted her nails, wore ear rings but had a close relationship with the Lord and genuinely loved all Christians, maybe even more than those who didn't do those things. However, when people that no longer meet with this group of Christian's came to the event for Manual and Renee last Saturday Night and wore pants, had painted nails and wore ear rings, the comments made publicly at the meeting the very next day were that this is a slap in God's face, conduct that "we" do not approve of and it was not appreciated. What? I thought you said that these things defined your relationship with Christ? When mixed messages like this are sent out to people, it creates struggles in the hearts and minds of those who truly want to love each other and follow God. You come away with feeling and believing that your dress is simply what is important. People's approval is what is important. Nothing about your relationship with God because these items supersede that. The relationship with these people is simply and completely about approval. I didn't used to think so until I stepped back away and dealt with questions, criticism, judgement based off of decisions I made, condemnation over how I have lived my life, and when I started really looking at what God's Word says and doesn't say, what I was taught, what I wasn't taught, what I believed, what I didn't believe, why I believed it, why I didn't believe it, what is carried out in action by others, by me and what God wants me to carry out in action...When you look at it through this lens, you have a whole different viewpoint on what you have always considered "right".
As I was sitting there trying to work through these thoughts in my heart and mind, I overheard conversation at the round table next to my booth. There were two couples there. One of the guys was discussing a really good movie that he wanted the other couple to see, Seven Days in Utopia. [I saw this movie on Netflix during my surgery recovery and it greatly impacted my world!] Their conversation went on to The History Channel that is showing a Bible Series right now. In the midst of this, their food was delivered and they prayed before they ate. They thanked God for His love, the forgiveness of sins, for their time together and His part in their lives and for all the people all over the world.
As I was taking this all in, my heart was Lord, why are all these events happening in a row for me tonight? What do you want me to learn? What am I to take away from this? Do you want me to go talk to them? I felt a sense of a message: "Be Still my child and watch and listen." I did.
I ordered my food. Before I received my order, another middle to older aged couple came in with their handicapped daughter. They sat in the booth next to me with the wheelchair parked at the end. The man was the most kind to this girl. She kept trying to say things and he didn't understand what she was saying, yet he kept trying to figure it out. He did not get impatient. He did not get irritated. He laughed when he got it wrong and kept trying. They ordered. Their food arrived. Then he prayed, loud so I could hear the entire thing. He thanked God for this new house they just got, for it having more storage then the last place and for it accommodating all their needs. He thanked them that everything had gone smoothly. He asked that they be a testimony to this community and meet new friends. He thanked God for the forgiveness of sins and for God's love. It was not a long prayer, but it was very heartfelt.
At this point, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer contrast of the people I had seen upon arrival who were walking out the door who "looked" like faith believing individuals but that lacked the rejoicing spirit to those who sat in the table and booth next to me that were not dressed and did not look like faith believing individuals, yet their lives clearly were centered around God and His love, His forgiveness, and very apart of their lives!!!
I finished my food in silence and in prayer and headed to the hotel to pray and seek God's direction for the meaning of all this in one evening. I absolutely believe He had one, and though I may not know what it means all yet, I know it is a seed He is working to grow in my life. God is teaching me lessons and I am overwhelmed by the daily ways He is apart of my life and showing me His ways! I wish I could blog about all of them...but alas, I don't have that amount of time, but I do plan to try to do as much sharing as I can. God is very sovereign! Beyond what I have ever known Him to be!