When I was training for ordination I opted to help out in a men’s homeless hostel. I really did meet some fascinating blokes.
They were a bit smelly and a bit rough and ready round the edges, but still an amazing group of people.
I met a chap who had suffered a major head injury while serving in a specialist armed services outfit in another country.
He told me that he was trained in jumping out of planes and killing people, and yet because of his injury couldn’t remember anything and used to come and ask me to give him simple sums to work on to try and get his brain going again.
There were also accountants and business men, all who had experienced some trauma or other and whose lives had fallen apart.
When you hear people’s stories you begin to understand why they are like they are and behave as they do.
But the problem today is that all too often people regard one another so superficially that they make such simplistic assumptions, often negative, all too quickly putting people into boxes or categories and as a result treating them in a highly inappropriate manner.
I know a lady living in a sheltered type community. She is well spoken and always dresses well and looks after her appearance.
Within the community there are those who speak about her in a derogatory way describing her as posh and stuck up, which is so far from the truth.
She has a heart of gold and deep compassion for people she meets, but because of a few vocal busybodies who have made ghastly assumptions her life is made more difficult than it should be.
As a vicar you learn very quickly not to make assumptions about the people you meet, or at least you should if you are doing your job properly!
I meet lots of people from all walks of life and just as our Lord treated everyone he met as an individual so should we.
It is important to respect the people we meet and who live around us.
Each person has a story to tell with experiences of life which have helped to form the person that they are.
There are those who are locked into their pasts in such ways that they have learned habits which grate with those around them.
If you have difficulty with someone and make an opportunity to share life’s experiences at a deeper level then you may find a more likeable person lurking within that can be unlocked.
You may even find the person you didn’t like because of your assumptions becomes a friend!