The other day as I drove to my son, Pie’s, apartment located across from one of the local high schools, I remembered it doesn’t hurt us to be nice. You see, a teenage boy sped across the divided four lane highway on his skateboard up ahead of me.
Ninny. I thought. You could get yourself killed.
As I parked the car and walked across the parking lot to Pie’s apartment, who should scoot past? The Ninny. I mean, the teenager.
The way I saw it, I had three choices.
- Be polite, smile, and say hello.
- Let the parent/teacher in me out and lecture the teen on the danger of riding his skateboard across a busy street.
- Or ignore him altogether.
Can you guess what I did?
I smiled and said hello. And you know what? Skateboarder Dude raised his silver-studded lip into a smile, waved back, and said hello.
Are there ever times when we see someone and become standoffish just because of their age, looks, or demeanor, without any real basis for that reaction?
I’m not talking about tuning away from someone when the spidey-sense God gives us goes off as we walk through a dark parking lot alone. Or when we find ourselves someplace we probably shouldn’t be.
I’m talking about refusing to acknowledge someone just because we’ve allowed a negative stereotype to take hold.
From the way the teen smiled after I spoke to him, I believe he was surprised I acknowledged him at all. It’s possible he may be accustomed to adults turning away and ignoring him. Or worse.
Back to my choices.
I could lecture him for the careless way he rode through traffic out of concern for his safety. I could ignore him completely as if he didn’t even exist because he acted irresponsible to my way of thinking. Or I could be nice.
By being nice and not lecturing or ignoring, maybe God used my few simple words to speak life to the teen in some small way.
You never know. But I’m pretty sure the other two options would not result in as positive a response.
Have you ever let discomfort stop you from being nice when it wouldn’t have hurt to do so?
This post first appeared on my blog May 8, 2016.
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It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. Ephesians 2:10 (TLB)
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I wish you well.
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