Five years ago, I wrote about this couple. Two kids later, they are so important to the work of our school and congregation. This is from November 9, 2011.
I was in my new favorite store, Jos A. Bank, about ten days ago when I saw Ryan and Emilee. I was looking at some pants and they were sitting at a table waiting to be helped. I nonchalantly edged closer and began clearing my throat. They did not look up so I kept clearing my throat and inching forward. Finally, I got right up next to them and repeated my noise and they looked up. It wasn't them. I mumbled something and beat a hasty retreat to the shirt section, as embarrassed as I have been in a long time. It's not like I don't know what this young married couple from church looks like. Ryan has been in our congregation for about four years. Emilee played basketball for me, was a student in my class, crossed paths with me on a mission trip in Honduras. Her dad is one of my church elders and her mom helps me pick out furniture from IKEA. On top of that, I preached the wedding of her sister, Shara. And yet I mistook Emilee and her significant other for two random strangers who simply own a passing resemblance to Mr. and Mrs. Owen.
Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? In my book, I tell the story of how a young woman in the Lebanon, Tennessee public library approached and basically accused me of being Hall Of Fame baseball player Mike Schmidt. When I told her I was not, she asked me, "Are you sure?" I was ....and am. It's not a recent syndrome. John the Baptist was mistaken for a number of religious legends. He denied that he was the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet. Jesus himself asked his men what the crowd was saying about his identity and the answers emerged. He was being called John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. At least they were mistaken for righteous folks although Jesus was at times referred to as demon possessed and indicted as being a Samaritan. Who do others think we are? Do they perceive us as kind or caring or Christ-like until they get up close and see the truth? Many of us might be better off if only viewed, in the words of Bette Midler, from a distance, which I freely admit is a song I can't stand. It's harder to hide the blemishes when others break inside the orbit of our defense mechanisms. That's a paradox of Christianity to me. To let the world in, we have to uncover our scars which we falsely believe would repel the ones who need to get close to us. And so we hope others clear their throats as a warning signal before they are standing right next to us, disappointed in their discovery. It shouldn't be that way. We ought to be open to others, especially believers, but it's a struggle. Anyway, you can look for me and maybe find me in your local Jos A. Bank location on some Saturday morning. But then again, it might only be Mike Schmidt.
Applicable quote of the day:
"“The identity of one changes with how one perceives reality.”
Gozen Vithu Jeyaloganathan
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org