November 20, 2009

Has the Mennonite Faith Changed, Or Have I?

The Mennonites I encountered growing up always aroused my curiosity. My observations made me sure they must be a humorless, fearful people. Being a bit shy myself (which probably means I thought too much of myself), I didn’t try to initiate conversations with them. In the Bi-Mart on River Road they would catch me watching them. I would smile, they would smile back. Their facial expressions seemed so serious, even fearful, and I presumed anxious to get back to their safe little communities. At least, that’s how I perceived them.

I liked it that the girls were always in dresses, but I thought it odd that they wore sneakers with skirts. I suppose I would have ignored that if they had acted like they were more comfortable standing next to us in the check-out line. I knew their clothing was related to their faith, and I admired them for that. But I wondered, if they know God, why do they seem so depressed?

Now I’m wondering, did something change?

A year or so ago a home school mom directed me to Dorcas Smucker’s blog. As I read her stories, I realized this was a woman much like me, in fact, very much like me!

Had I been judging an entire community by a small handful of people who may be just having a bad day, or something? I have certainly been guilty of stuff like that. When Jesus said that we judge people by their outward appearance, he was probably just stating a fact. We do! He wasn’t necessarily trying to correct us. It’s just a fact.

Last winter I spent 4 straight days crossing the border with my husband to take care of his dental needs in Mexico. Getting back to the US side took about 4 hours, so the second day I decided to leave him in the chair and get a head start on the long wait. As I approached the end of the line I prayed an odd prayer. I asked God to let me meet some Mennonites. I have contemplated many times that I would like to sit and chat with Dorcas, but she is rather out of my reach and I don’t want to bother her; so maybe I thought I’d meet some Mennonites in Mexico? Right!

I stepped up onto the curb and adjusted my hat. Too much sunlight on my skin gives me hives, so it took me awhile to be ready to look around. When I finally lifted my head, standing beside me were two women with head coverings and a man with a short beard. Whoa! Now what do I say?

Since blog entries are supposed to be brief, I’ll just say that before we were separated a couple hours later we had exchanged stories and names, I had turned down their invitation to a school dinner, and I felt I had made some very wonderful friends.

Basically there is, as my husband likes to say, “more research required.” Yes, I'm asking for some more Mennonite friends, Lord!