Things are not always as they appear.
A week ago Sunday my family and I found ourselves waiting in line with hundreds of other Pittsburgh Pirates’ fans trying to enter PNC Park. Due to recent incidents in the city and the Pittsburgh Regatta running simultaneously, the local authorities increased security measures causing a longer than normal wait time to enter. The first pitch had already been thrown. The temperatures soared while the patience of some fans diminished. Don’t get me wrong…most waited in line knowing security is for our benefit, but not all.
Some of the security personnel encouraged people to use other gates rather than entering near home plate as the lines were shorter. Many accepted and weaved through the lines to get to another entrance. One particular group decided to make it appear that they were doing the same, but instead they stopped near the front of the line. They had no intention of moving on through; instead they opted to maneuver themselves in a position cutting off more than 20-30 people who had been waiting patiently.
The group I refer to was made up of about 8-10 twenty-somethings headed out for a nice day at the ballpark. An odor of alcohol that lingered as they passed by attested to the fact that their normal judgment might have been compromised even at this early hour. Tailing behind the group was a young man about six foot tall. He wore a Mohawk spiked to the max possibly adding another two inches to his height. He stood out to me, but not for the reasons you might think. Multiple body piercings adorned his face, tattoos decorated his body and chains hung from his waist. Some might see this guy coming and assume he’d follow suit, but not that day. This young man came with a gentle reminder to be careful who you judge.
He stopped shy of the line where his friends had just cut into position. “What are you guys doing?”
Said friends kept their eyes forward and waved him into the fold as if none of us would notice.
“NO! That’s not cool! What about all these people?” he motioned toward all those between where they had come and where they stopped.
“C’mon dude, they have your ticket!” quipped one of his friends.
He stood there on the edge of the crowd. He looked at all those in line once again, a sorrowful expression on his face. “I’m not having any part of this,” he shook his head and turned to walk away.
Tears filled my eyes. How considerate? How bold? If he were my son, I would be very proud.
His friends remained where they were. To be honest, I’m not sure if that young man made it into the game. I desperately tried to find him. I wanted to commend him for his exemplary character. The sad truth is that I suspect he might face scrutiny and turned up noses on any given day due to the way he chooses to do his hair and adorn his body; however, what I saw was a young man of integrity and honor. He stood his ground to do what he knew was right instead of “going with the crowd.”
Lord, help me to do the same when this world tries to lead me from your truths or permits me to act in a way that would not honor you. Most importantly, help me to not judge based on preconceived notions, but instead look to the heart beneath.