That guy…

Everyone has a history.  Everyone is who they are today due much in part to their past experiences.  I want to tell you about one such person who is an amazing example of someone people misunderstand and an example to us all to try to understand that all people are more than they appear.  The first time I saw this gentleman, at the gym I frequent, he stood out as someone I should pay attention to.  He had a doorag (bandana) on his head and a very mean look on his face.  Something inside of me instantly felt caution.  He was leaning against a wall and just staring at people.  Being the cautionary type who likes to face trouble quickly I walked over near him and gave him a head nod and a, “Hey man, how’s it going?” The response was a mean glare and no words.  I walked away and admit that my first thought was, “Ok, Bob, obviously this is someone who has either been in prison, or is just plain dangerous.”  At that moment I knew I would always keep an eye on him.  I noticed him venture to a machine here or there, but never really do any real exercising.  Most of the time he was half heartedly lifting a weight, but continually staring at people looking like he hated each and every person there.  This continued for a few days.  One day I was coming up the stairs from the locker room and when I looked up he was walking down the stairs staring right at me.  He stopped me with direct eye contact and anger in his eyes.  I admit that I instantly was ready for the worst and was prepared to defend myself.  That is when this came out of his mouth, “Hey…  you know these politicians are a mess.  You know they are all a big mess.  They need Jesus because only Jesus can fix this mess!  People think they can but they can’t only Jesus can and they need Him!”  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  I was a bundle of emotions from guilt, to awe, from confusion, to amazement.  In a million years I would have never expected those words to come from his mouth.  I am so ashamed to even admit this.

As the days passed, the silence and mean glares continued.  I was so confused.  He still made me feel like he hated the world, but I was blown away by his bold statement of belief in Jesus and our need for Him.  Day after day, anger, hate, danger, continued to show on his face.

That brings us to this morning when something happened to blow open the doors of my understanding.  This gentleman was behind me as I walked in to the gym, to the stairs, and down to the locker room.  I held the door and said, “After you sir.”  No speech in return just that glare.  I went over to my locker and he to another area of the locker room where he saw someone he must have talked to before.  That person said, “Hey man how are things with you?”  He responded, “Terrible, how can they not be terrible when you have prostate cancer.”  The other man responded, “Yes I understand, but you should try to have a better mindset and try to think differently.”  The man said, “I don’t know what you mean by that, but how can you when you have had this mind set since 1989…  My wife died, my son died, and I don’t understand why the Good Lord didn’t let me die back then.  I haven’t had a different mindset since then, I just wish He would take me.”

WOW!  People, we need to understand that when someone seems a mess, when someone seems like they have issues, they seem to be people to avoid, they may just be normal people like you and me who have lost the battle mentally on this Earth.  We all have a story.  We all have moments in our lives that are turning points.  This man has spent the last 20+ years of his life hurting and alone!  What amazes me is this man deep down inside continues to hold on to hope.  He speaks of the Good Lord, and Jesus.  How people can survive certain events in their lives is hard to understand.  Loses of children, abuse, death of loved ones, failures of relationships.  So many things in our lives try to break us, but we have a hope.  A hope that our God will one day come back and make it all right again.  Love people around you and try your best to empathize and not judge.  I have a new understanding of a man who is not dangerous, he is just broken.  Help me God to see people for who they really are.

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