Yesterday I was walking in the mall for exercise. You see the most interesting people as you are mingling with strangers and it's natural to wonder about who they are and what their lives are like. As I turned a corner of the mall, I came upon a young man (maybe 14 or even younger) sitting on a bench with his elbows on his knees and and his hands on his face looking down to the ground. He was dressed all in black with metal hanging everywhere, five or six piercings on his face, his hair dyed a bright red and cut in a very unusual cut. He looked so alone. In that instant of seeing him, I wanted to sit down beside him and hug him. He most obviously did not want to be conformed to the normal world around him---he was very much striving to be different. I wanted to ask him---why? What is in that young mind that would cause him to go to such lengths to be diffferent? I assume he definitely was crying out for attention, but I suspect he didn't want a gray-haired grandmotherly type to interfere. He probably thought I'd never understand, and I must admit, I probably would not have understood. But he just seemed like he needed someone to love him.
Why wasn't I brave enough to do what I wanted to do in my heart? With the frightening events of boys who have rebelled in the past in such violent ways, fear was probably the main factor that caused me to walk on by as if I didn't think he existed.
I'm ashamed of that! If maybe he had looked up at me and smiled, I might have attempted to start a conversation.
Was I completely off base by judging him by his appearance only--to immediately assume that this young man was troubled and alone and afraid just by the clothes he wore and by his demeanor? Another fault of mine not to be proud of. The people who follow their heart no matter what fears lie within him are the people that accomplish the impossible.
I said a little prayer for this young man as I walked by. And I asked forgiveness for not being brave enough to follow that little nudge inside to sit down and offer a kind word to him in person, even if only a smile.
"Love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12)