A few weeks ago, a young man approached me in church to pass the peace.
In the Spanish-language church I attend, this means moving around the room, trying to wish others the peace of Christ and shake hands with as many people as possible.
This brother in Christ was dressed in a baggy t-shirt, long shorts. He had his head shaved, wore a goatee.
Thug, my brain said, even as he extended the hand of peace to me.
I shushed my internal monologue and took his hand. Don’t assume things, I told myself. I’ve become accustomed to—and ashamed of—the way I categorize the young men in the congregation if they’re not dressed in polo shirts.
I wished him the peace of Christ, accepted his offering of peace in turn.
Later in the service, people shared prayer requests. The young man I’d profiled stood up and shared his testimony.
He spoke about the leadership of his father in his life. He praised God in terribly difficult circumstances.
I listened. I wanted to weep with him, but there was a deep shame in my heart.
It was a week or so after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson.
I’m at SheLoves today, talking about how I’ve been convicted about my habit of looking at young men of color with suspicion–even as they pass me the peace. Won’t you join me?
Image credit: Cristina