I am used to being judged. Of being put in a box that I have no control over. I have been put in a box based on my race my whole life. I am quite visibly not white. And growing up in a white world, I got accustomed to the speed in which that world felt comfortable sharing their most clever put downs.
I am also a large man. Both in belly and in shoulder. You add in the beard and the brown, and that makes me a fearsome man. I have seen women bring their kids a little closer when I am passing on the sidewalk.
Now, this is not every moment kinda behavior, but it is commonplace. And honestly, I understand where it comes from. It doesn’t bother me. I am not going to stop a blossoming friendship cause of another spic and span joke.
But this week I was judged for something new. I was not only judged, but I was rejected. And I am going to be honest. I didn’t like it.
I have learned how to overcome my appearance. I may look big and strong, but I don’t use my hands for violence. I have a too-loud laugh and a unrelenting smile that overcomes height and girth and even color. This new thing…I wasn’t able to overcome it with politeness or clarity of speech. Reason couldn’t save me, or even calling in a favor. I was judged and found wanting.
For the first time in my adult life, I was judged for being poor.
Angie and I are trying to find a doctor. So I posted on Facebook asking for suggestions, and people told me about doctors they know and trust. Well, one doctor received much praise for their professionalism and kindness. So we pursued them. They were accepting new clients and were only like 3 miles from our home. We called our insurance and they approved of this new Primary Care Physician, and we were off to the races!
So, I called the office and we began the process of setting up our first appointments. Then they heard what kind of insurance we have. We have poor man’s insurance. And this doctor even accepts such insurance. But the receptionist paused. And then talked to others on that side of the phone. And then told me very politely that though they are taking more patients, they are not taking any more patients with this kind of insurance. I talked with them at length, trying to understand why. I have money. I have coverage. They are open to new patients. But I’m not the kind of patient they want.
I understand why they are closing this door. It sounds like people with ghetto insurance often don’t pay their bills, and they are out all that cash. And they don’t want any more of that high deductible HMO nonsense. So they took it into consideration for 24 hours, and called the next day to tell me I was undesirable.
I have a Flint address. I have poor man’s insurance. I am seen by financial institutions in a new way. It has nothing to do with my financial history, my integrity, my word, or strength. I am in a new class. I will not cry about it. Nor will I rage against the machine. I will nod my head and call the next place and the next place until someone is willing to let us pay them money.
I am rejected. And this will not be the first time. And there may be seasons where this perception will anger me at the ways of the world. But it allows me to walk in the shoes of my brothers and sisters here in Flint. And it pushes me to grasp more strongly onto my one true home. For there is a place where I am accepted. Where the door is swung open wide when I come near. Where even though I am seen in my poverty, I am loved. I may be rejected by the institutions of men, but thanks be to Christ that I am accepted by the all seeing God of heaven. And under the shadow of His wings we can find identity and personhood and hope.