Summer college orientation. Exciting. Exhausting. Sessions with your adult child (“Don’t drink. Go to class. Get involved.”) and sessions without your child (“This is how much it will cost for you to send your child to our university.” Momentary feeling of nausea. Commence breathing in a bag…).
So it was during one of the lunch sessions without my child that I decided I would make a new friend. Sizing up the other “single” moms there (meaning I detected no husband around) I spied my target. She looked to be my age. Attractive, but not overly botoxed up or anything. Conservatively dressed. My new friend.
So I sashayed on up to her in the cafeteria line right in front of the fried chicken that smelled delicious but wouldn’t be going on my plate. (Not because I have self control regarding friend chicken – I don’t. I have a gluten intolerance problem so friend food is a no-no.) I was wearing my big, friendly smile, so confident she would be friendly back. “Hi, how are you?” I said. She didn’t look my way, and I chalked it up to her being overly interested in the green beans (which were delicious, BTW). So I tried again, this time a little louder and with a little more enthusiasm: “This cafeteria food actually looks good!”
Now I know she heard me. I know it because the cafeteria worker gave me a look like, “Sister she doesn’t want any part of you.” She definitely heard me but I didn’t even get a sideways glance. Total. Rejection.
Apparently my new friend had decided I was not PLU – “People Like Us.” I thought we were a match because of how we looked on the outside. I had it all wrong.
After I got my lunch, I sheepishly looked around, embarrassed that I had looked at the clothes, the purse, the hair. I sat at a table all alone, wallowing in my self-inflicted punishment of eating by myself.
As I was picking through my gluten-free meal two ladies walked up and asked if they could sit with me. My big friendly smile returned. The three of us had a very enjoyable lunch talking about our soon to be freshman daughters. Apparently I was PLT – People Like Them.
God is so good. I didn’t deserve to eat lunch with some friendly women – at least not in my mind. He must have heard my heart and my self-talk (“That was dumb. What is wrong with you? Just eat your lunch by yourself and get ready to learn about the career placement center…”) and showed me some mercy.
And then this verse came to me – “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
May I never look for PLM (People Like Me) again.