I recently revealed my humanity, in public, at the Apple Store, my kids were horrified.
It was unexpected.
As an adult, I have honed the skills of hiding the fact that I am human. I have crafted an ability to react to situations, or events, that let people know that I have neither feelings or emotions. I have skillfully learned to keep a fence around myself that permits only the closest family members to see any vulnerability or pain.
However, I am human.
I exposed this humanity recently on a visit to the Apple Store. If you have never been to an Apple Store you may not have a point of reference to understand. An Apple Store is much like stepping onto another planet, especially if you are an old guy like me. There is always a crowd and, upon entering, no one seeks to help, or even acknowledge your existence. There is no eager employee to please you or even to attempt to sale you the Apple products. It is your job to identify the employees, which are always the hippest looking people in the mall. Once you have made a positive identification of the employee it is your responsibility to approach him or her.
It is best to not look desperate or needy.
I ventured into the Apple Store in an effort to drop off my son’s computer. It had quit working during his summer job in Hawaii; yes college kids can lead a rough summer existence. He had mailed it to me hoping to get it repaired and working before the fall semester.
It didn’t take long for me to recognize the look on the Apple Employee’s face; you don’t just drop off a computer and expect it to be repaired at the Apple Store. I had violated one of the core principals. You need to have made an on line appointment and an exact time scheduled to meet with a technician.
Right there, next to the kiosks for flying helicopters, sea salt skin care products and teeth whitening products, you need an appointment. I didn’t have an appointment.
I looked at the face of the employee and then the crowd sitting at tables around me and immediately felt very old.
“There are six people with reservations in front of you,” he said, “it will be awhile before you can see a technician. You are welcome to wait.”
He was very polite. I came to the precipice of not being very polite which was evident by the fact that I turned to find my daughters gone. They had made a quick exit to stand outside the store eliminating any possibility of being connected with the crazy old man who didn’t have an appointment.
Somewhere during this exchange, while I said arrogant things like, “I expected better from you guys than this,” I mentioned that I did not have time to wait as I needed to get my youngest son to Children’s hospital.
My son, who is actually fifteen, has had a difficult year health wise. At this moment he had already had two surgeries on his left kidney area. A local urologist had gone in twice to cut stuff out that was blocking the flow from his kidney to his bladder. This had originally revealed itself through his experience with intense pain and continued to cause him agony even after the first and second surgery. We had recently consulted our amazing pediatrician, who had referred us to the state Children’s Hospital. Within hours, and before ever meeting us, or my son, these specialists had reviewed his case and made an appointment.
I was in the Apple Store on the day of the appointment.
As I told the hip and functioning Apple employee that I needed to get my son to Children’s hospital, my humanity began to flow out of me. My eyes became red and began to swell and my voice began to sound like my dog when the back door is not opened quickly enough at meal time.
I was embarrassed. I have spent a lifetime keeping this persona separate from anything anyone ever sees, and now it was showing. I was becoming a progressively increasing display of humanity for the world to see; it was showing in the Apple Store in front of the hip young employee who was able to grow a full beard and then keep it trimmed just perfectly.
As I looked at the young man I saw his countenance change. He continued to look hip and cool but suddenly he didn’t seem to just see me as the guy who was too old to comprehend the way things work at the Apple Store. He got the manager who quickly told me that they were going to see what they could do to get me to the hospital on time.
The manager had heard about the revelation of my humanity from the employee, he had also unlabeled me. He then brought out the technician, who, incidentally had an even more hip and unshaven beard. The technician had also learned about my exposed humanity and began telling me about his own experience with his humanity. His twins had be born premature and spent months in Children’s Hospital before he and his wife had been able to finally take them home.
He assured me that this whole humanity thing is normal, even after my crackling voice kept me from being able to respond to the manager who checked back in to make sure I was doing alright. The manager said “I hope everything turns out ok with your son.” to which I could say nothing.
As I sat on the hip stool, in the hip store, I began to realize the power of humanity when we cease to be labeled or label others. The raw response of humans to humans. Humans that do not have a name tag attached to their old man clothes that says “I am not cool”; “I am too old”; “I am too stupid”; “I am ugly”, I am uncoordinated”; “I am unclean”; “I am a male”; “I am a female”; “I am unacceptable”; “I don’t know what I am”; “I am not worthy or your time”; “I am human.”
What happens when we began to see all of humanity as God’s beloved created.
As I left the store, it occurred to me that this was a great learning experience which had given me the knowledge of a very powerful tool. Tears, emotions, and humanity. I had the fleeting carnal thought that this was something that I would need to remember in the future. I now had something much more powerful than anger and arrogance.
God quickly reminded me that this was, indeed, a learning experience but not for me to use selfishly. This was a learning revelation that showed how God looks at all of us. He looks at us as humans. He does not see us with labels or name tags that identify our current struggles, our confusion and doubts, our mistakes and sin, our humanity. He sees us as humans with a beating heart. A heart that screams out for help, assistance, and acceptance. A heart that is crying out for God. He sees us without any name tags or labels.
When Christ was writing on the ground at the feet of the accused adulterous woman, while the men stood with stones gripped tightly in their hands, he was discarding the labels that had been placed on the woman. He was taking off her ‘slut’ and ‘immoral’ name tags and replacing them with tags that said ‘human’ and ‘loved’. He was seeing the woman through God’s eyes. Eyes that were then able to lovingly and compassionately say,“Go and sin no more.”
He was looking at a human…..just like him.
Tomorrow my son will have his fourth surgery. His human family, including his human dad, will be in the waiting room for the endurance. I have kept the parent’s wristband on my arm since his third surgery to remind me of my humanity, my son’s humanity, and God’s love for all of humanity.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28