Hitchhikers, Hippies, and my Hypocrisy

The two shabbily dressed hitchhikers were smiling brightly alongside the rural highway. I was heading east and they were thumbing west. Before making my turn, I had just enough time to notice their youthful exuberance. The longhaired girl stood next to her thickly bearded guy. Their thumbs were boldly extended, waiting for someone generous enough to give them and their two heavily laden backpacks a ride.

As I headed in the opposite direction I thought about the hitchhiking couple. It must have been humbling to make brief eye contact with drivers as they sped past leaving them on the side of the road. Dressed the way they were, I imagined it would take awhile to get a lift.

It reminded me of my college days. As a young freshman I arrived on campus with my clean-cut wardrobe and worldly innocence. I stood out like a freak of nature on a campus that featured full-blown hippies. No one dressed like me. No one seemed to care either.  But to my high-minded standards, they looked like bums in mismatched cheap clothes.

Besides my academic class load, I was taking a crash course to instruct me that appearances didn’t matter. I failed. I expected clean-shaven and well dressed. Even the faculty wore unprofessional attire. I had yet to learn that underneath the exterior were people with interesting life stories. All I could see were worn out jeans, stringy hair, and beat-up overcoats.

Then I fell in love with a hippie. On the outside I could see a beard just as long as his dark hair. But on the inside, he was absolutely irresistible. He hung out with similarly dressed students and he helped improve my vision so I could look past the appearances and see with my heart. I was able to meet some incredibly talented hippies—smart too. All that I would have missed, had I not opened my heart.

But when I saw the hitchhikers I realized my judgmental tendencies crept back in without warning. Shallow of me, I know. I can’t claim to hate hypocrisy and then invite it within myself. Thankfully God looks at me without the lens that I sometimes use to look at others. I need to throw away those hypocritical glasses.

In our culture of colorful tattoos, interesting piercings, and wild clothing styles, I have plenty of opportunity to practice what I know God wants me to learn—it isn’t what’s on the outside that matters, it’s taking the time to enjoy who is on the inside.

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