“Who picked this place?” I whispered, “We’re having the awards banquet here,” responded my husband.
“There wasn’t another place to have the banquet?” I whispered, glancing around.
“Laura, it’s just another place to eat,” Tony said, sighing. “Well, I don’t like it,” I hissed. What are people going to think?” I whined.
We were at Hooters. And I was acting like a Pharisee.
I tried my best to play it off and look just as comfortable as the other parents. Nobody else seemed to be bothered about being at Hooters except for me. I was the only one looking around to see if the kids were staring at the servers. They were more interested in the wings and the ranch dip. Any real, good excuse not to have the banquet there? Nope. Here’s the definition of what was going on in my mind and in my heart: An excuse is a lie disguised as a reason.
As I sat there, the Holy Spirit quietly began to work on my heart. Alright, I’m going to be honest; God started working on me. As He worked on me, my heart softened, and I loosened up and talked to the ladies who were assigned to serve our tables. They were friendly and attentive. Yes, they were dressed in tank tops, but their compression stockings were more like the ones you see on senior adult women. After a while, the atmosphere (on my part anyway), lightened up. I was the only one sitting there with my face all scrunched up, arms folded, and stomach growling because of my attitude and stupid thought process.
Everyone else was engaged in conversations, while I began to feel convicted. Then the discussions changed: my sons decided to tell the staff what their dad did for a living besides coach. Yes, they told the servers their dad was a pastor. They were so proud.
And so was I.
But I also felt ashamed. There I was, wife of the coach-pastor worrying about what people might think or possibly say. The pastor, his wife, and their kids had dinner at Hooters. They even had the audacity to have their kids’ banquet there. Yes, those thoughts spun around inside my head and my heart. It was me having issues.
I felt as if the word “hypocrite” was etched on my forehead. These girls were just trying to make an honest living. And then there was me. Feel free to sigh deeply right here. The hypocritical-spiritual PW who knew better. Insert your I-can’t-believe-her with your raised eyebrows. I’ll put your “WOW” right here. There I sat hoarding the greatest award—Jesus— and was too judgmental and scared to share.
Fear gripped my heart as I listened to my eight-year-old son talk about his father, how well he preached, and that they should come visit our church. I just sat there in stunned silence. And a child shall lead them. Then my daughters chimed in with “Mom, we want to work here when we go to college.”
“Okay,” I said.
Whatever face you imagine me having during this conversation is probably spot on.
“That’s nice.” I don’t believe my forced smile fooled anyone.
I was hiding my light under the guise of concern for the children. No, I was being gloriously judgmental. I just assumed stuff about the waitresses, and I was wrong.
I should’ve been showing the love of Christ, and I didn’t. My children were witnessing and being all spiritually mature, and I wasn’t.
Thankfully, God said, “Enough.” He revealed this Truth to my heart: Hooters, like other restaurants, is a place where believers eat and have conversations; they can be meaningful, real, and transformative. God can do some of His best work in the uncomfortable places of our well-intentioned lives. Sometimes we hinder Him with our attitudes.
Let me explain.
Hooters wouldn’t have been and wasn’t my first choice. For an awards banquet. My rationale? I didn’t want the banquet there because I thought it was a Gentleman’s Club disguised as an eating establishment.
And there’s more.
Maybe Hooters isn’t your challenge, Smarty Pants. Whatever or wherever your uncomfortable place is, what’s your reason? I’ll wait. Oh, and one more thing, I didn’t want my husband looking at another woman whose body might be in better shape than mine. Not so sure I wanted to see that. Not so sure I wanted him to see that.
Your turn. Be honest. It doesn’t have to be long. Start with the truth and tuck it away in your Heart Rolodex.
I’m a Recovering Pharisee
I often hear, “Sometimes you’re the only Bible some folks read.” You don’t want to be a fake Bible, do you? You represent Jesus! “Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant … Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality” (Romans 12:11-13 MSG).
How can you be inventive in hospitality? Be a better servant. Step out of your comfortable place of piousness. This is hard because it’s something we don’t want to admit. Friends, sometimes we’re too much with our righteous indignation.
God is not happy with this separatist arrogance. God is everywhere and God is at Hooters. When I got out of God’s way, people saw the goodness of God in us and wanted to learn more about this Jesus thing. When we do the “You’re not saved?” we often offend or turn off potential believers.
Hooters is part of our Eating Ministry. We have great conversations there. The Lesson: places of discomfort for the believer can be life-giving and life-changing opportunities for the non-believer, the backslider, and the new believer.
Have hard, life-changing conversations with your family and friends. The world is already showing your circle of influence what it wants them to know, so why not show them what you want them to know and get ahead of the world?
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. … Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody” (Romans 12:9, 16 MSG).
You can’t share your Jesus if you’re being supercilious. Neither will you demonstrate the love of Jesus by rolling your eyes or forever folding your arms. And that passive-aggressive “I’m just not going to say anything at all” will never win anyone to Jesus.
Have the Hard Conversations with Yourself
Are you a Pharisee? Are you a Christian Snob? Do you act like you’re better than others? Do you give the “my sin isn’t as bad as your sin” vibe?
Meditate on Romans 12:9-16. What does the passage say to your heart, and is it in need of transformation?
Don’t Be a Pharisee.
When that Pharisee-ictal attitude creeps in, ask God to help you see it as an opportunity for growth, and learning about other perspectives. The Holy Spirit will love that.
Laura Simon is an award-winning author, mother, mentor, speaker, pastor’s wife, and former elementary school teacher. Now she strives to write and share her honest and transparent stories about an imperfect person finding her perfect purpose. Laura lives in California with her husband, four children, and one grand-toddler-turtle named Squirtle.