“Well, you look like a country girl.”
I’d never heard that statement before, and just recently someone I barely knew decided it was something I needed to hear. I’m still not exactly sure what she meant by it, because (in my opinion), I don’t. And I certainly didn’t at the time. I was in blue jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and flip-flops. That’s not the garb I would associate with a country girl.
I don’t really know this person. She’s someone I’ve spoken to on and off for the last six or seven years, but for some reason we actually struck up a real conversation recently. That’s when I explained to her that I live on a farm, and that’s when she declared me a “country girl.”
I take that as a huge compliment. To me, a country girl is strong and resilient and resourceful. Someone who isn’t prissy or fussy. Someone who just gets things done because they need to be done. And as the words fell, I grinned, because–I mean, hey, what a nice thing to say!
But then that little voice in the back of my head started whispering at me. This person was wearing a lovely pantsuit and vest with her hair up, all matching accessories and such. And we were in a group of other women who were also dressed quite nicely, make up and hair styles and jewelry. But me being the odd one out when it comes to make up and accessories isn’t unusual for me.
And, before you ask, it was a casual event. There was no dress code, and I’d come directly from running errands, with more errands to run when my visiting was over. So I came comfortable, and most people in attendance were friends or close acquaintances.
I’m positive that the statement wasn’t intended to be critical, and–frankly–even if it had been intended as criticism, it failed. Because I took it as a compliment! But it just got me thinking about how people react to the way others look, the way they dress, the jewelry they wear (or don’t wear), etc.
We all judge each other. It’s just part of life, and you can’t get away from it. We all look at the person sitting next to us or walking down the sidewalk toward us, and we have an internal conversation with ourselves about who they are, what they’re wearing, how they’re walking, and whether or not they’re going to mug you. Some of that is probably wise. It’s always a good idea to be alert, but our first impression of someone is rarely accurate.
Hey, if someone can look at me and think “country girl” when I’m wearing flip-flops, blue jeans, and a church shirt, that’s awesome. But that’s a really shallow view of who I am as a person. And the same is true for the people you encounter on the street or in your office or at your church.
It’s not that being called “country girl” offends me. Goodness, no. Other than being called kind or wise or Christlike, that’s one of the nicest things somebody could say about me. But I’m a lot more than a girl who lives in the country.
It was just a really good reminder for me to not make a judgement call about someone because of what they’re wearing or even where they live. Sure, everyone has to establish a basic understanding a person, but don’t stop with a basic understanding. Don’t decide that the person you see isn’t worth your time because he or she isn’t up to your standards. That could be the worst mistake of your life, because there are no accidents.
God brings people into your life for a reason, and if you choose to walk away from that person for whatever reason, you could be walking away from a huge blessing. I wouldn’t risk it.