I was coming up out of the Dupont Circle Metro station one morning in Washington, on my way to work at First Baptist Church, when I saw someone coming down the escalator on the other side who looked, well…scary. He was wearing dark glasses, a leather jacket, and enough tattoos and body piercings to make it hard to see what he really looked like. I gulped and thought, “There’s one of God’s favorites.”
I don’t know what inspired that thought but it had an immediate effect—no longer did I see him as frightening or threatening; I saw him as one of God’s favorites. I could imagine God introducing the two of us and saying, “Jim, have you met Mad Dog? I love this guy!” And I could imagine Mad Dog smiling and reaching out to shake hands. I smiled when I passed him on the escalator (and was it my imagination or did he smile back?).
As I walked the two blocks to church I tried it on every person I passed: “There’s one of God’s favorites, there’s one of God’s favorites, there’s one of God’s favorites…” And on every person it worked: I saw them in a different way than I had only a second earlier. By the time I reached the end of the first block it was all I could do not to tell the woman who was standing there with me waiting for the light to change, “You’re one of God’s favorites!” I believed she really was.
When I got to church one of our preschool teachers was on the playground with some of the children and I stopped to talk with her, still giddy from my walk. Teresa is originally from Jamaica. She has a sweet, sweet spirit and a beautiful smile. I’m almost 100% sure that she is one of God’s favorites and I told her so. She beamed. Every time I saw her in the days that followed I would say, “You’re one of God’s favorites!” and she would say, “You are, too!” (That’s not a bad way to greet one another, is it?).
To this day, when I encounter someone who seems different, strange, or even a little bit scary I just think, “There’s one of God’s favorites,” and it helps. And I know this, that even if that person is not one of God’s favorites, he or she is someone God loves, and that makes a difference.
If God loves Mad Dog he can’t be all bad, can he?
p.s. The picture I’ve used on this post is a picture of someone who calls himself “the Scary Guy.” Click on the link to find out more. He may really be one of God’s favorites!