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  • Writer's pictureHilltop UMC

Stranger Danger, What's that?

By Hannah Sweet

When we are little, we are taught that there is danger among strangers, or stranger danger as it’s most commonly referred to. It’s an instinct that is nearly bred into us as children, from the adults in our lives claiming that “anyone could have taken you” to the fairy tales of old which used imagery and metaphor to illustrate these claims in ways that would instill a sense of fear in the unknown. However, my childhood was not entirely like this. As a child of a minister, we moved around a lot and as such I refused to develop a sense of “stranger danger”; and instead I eagerly and readily clung to the idea that a stranger was just a friend I hadn’t met yet. It is a philosophy that served me well in life. I was the “new girl” at school more than once, and often times in a situation where the other people already had established connections; connections that were often hard to break into. Still I persisted onward, holding on to our old family saying: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Will Rogers, a distant relative, once said this. In fact it has become synonymous with him and when they made his life into a musical, The Will Rogers Follies, it turned into an entire song.

Yes I'll say it till I'm done No I never met one that I didn't like.

Met the worst and met the best Somebody put me to the test Almost made me change my mind Yet somehow I'd always find If you don't expect too much There's a certain human touch Homo sapiens have got other animals have not Try the shoes on that are his Feel what makes him what he is What's it like inside his skin Living in the skin he's in Just like me a lump of sod There but for the grace of God That is a philosophy of this part time Cherokee

Although I never met him, Will Rogers philosophy towards strangers leans closer to mine than that of “stranger danger”. As a Christian we will encounter lots of people, and sometimes that can make us weary, however, we mustn’t let it! Our goal as a Christian is to spread God’s love, to do the good works He began in us. Hebrews 13:2 also suggests that we not shun strangers but rather that we embrace them.

2Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

It is not for us to know the plans of the Lord, but to simply have faith that He will not lead us where we should not go. Sometimes the strangers the Lord brings into our lives are the ones who need Him but do not know the way. In large, we should be less reticent to discount those we don’t know or have yet to encounter because they are strangers to us, whether that be because we simply haven’t met them yet, or because their ways are not our own. God made us all different so that we might learn the entire spectrum of His majesty, so if you struggle accepting someone because a part of them is a stranger to you, or if you simply have trouble meeting strangers, I encourage you to pray this prayer:

Dear Lord, Please make me like Will. Let my heart be open to all those I encounter, even if they are a stranger to me. Let me never meet a man I don’t like. Please help me to remember that our differences, though they separate us here on earth doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of your larger plan. A plan I can’t even imagine the entire scope of! Please open my heart and guide me toward those “strangers” whose lives can help me on my journey of Christian growth. Thank you for making me in your image, just as you have made all people. Thank you for allowing me to have the room in my heart to love the strangers I encounter. Please help me to commit to this, and forgive me if I falter in my quest. Amen.

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