I thought I knew her type.
It was the second time I had seen her come to church but the first time we ever interacted. She was a bit older, sort of mousy, and she walked up to me with a red baseball hat tucked under one arm and a John MacArthur Study Bible under the other. She pulled down her mask, leaned in, and asked, “What is your church’s stance on human sexuality and abortion? Cause I need to know. Also, I just want to say I am so glad you are removing the mask mandate.”
Every neuron in my body was firing telling me to RUN. I knew her type. They don’t ask to learn or to open themselves to new perspectives. They ask to ensure the one perspective that has been taught for generations is the one that is being taught here. I knew what those questions were code for, and I was the wrong person to be interacting with her. I hoped I would never have to interact with her again.
How could I allow myself to be face to face with the type of person I believed was my arch-nemesis?
Two weeks later, she stopped to talk with me as I held the doors at the end of a service. This time, she asked about the ways she could get connected at the church. She said it had been really hard to connect since moving here, and she was grateful I was so welcoming to her a few weeks ago. I gritted my teeth. I didn’t want her to think I welcome or even like people like her.
I got to my office the next morning and realized she had left me a voicemail. I came to learn that she wanted to be signed up for a four week class I was teaching on racial justice.
“This will be interesting,” I thought.
On the first night she showed up with all of the pre-class homework completed. She actually read the emails I sent out and was the only one who came prepared.
“Surely, though, she is just here to fight with us,” I reasoned.
She sat and listened the entire evening. She even came up to me afterward and told me how much she learned and how much she enjoyed the dialogue. She said she had never considered some of the issues that we discussed, and she had plenty to think about before next week.
She continued to show up week after week, asking questions and taking notes; she even asked if I would like to meet for coffee sometime. She wanted to ask more personal questions that we just didn’t have time for during the class.
I thought I knew her type.
As it turns out, I was the one who was acting like the type of person I thought I knew.
Haley Wiggers is passionate about discovering how the messy, painful, and unexpected gifts that come with being human connect and relate to and offer understanding of how God relates to and cares for us. She’s been married to her husband Tyson for 4.5 years, and together they just welcomed their first little into the world. His name is Theo, and he is the cutest. United by undeserved grace, they’ve created a life centered around table fellowship with others and long walks with their puppy.
Girl I love this one
Been there…done that! So true! You said it well, thank you.
Wow. “Mirrors” are powerful things. God, show me the parts of myself I never realized were there. Help me to change “my type” in all the necessary ways.
Haley – As a recovering good church lady, I can so relate. Thank you for this generous, gracious response to the good church lady in all of us.
Can I just say, I not only love this post and what it exposed in myself, but I also love the space it opened up for all of the readers and commenters. Such a gorgeous modeling of bridging difference to learn and to love!