When I was in high school, I went with a couple of friends to a hip cafe in downtown Toronto. The cafe had live folk music, so we went to hear the musicians. There we were, sitting at a table, trying to decide what to order. When the waitress came, I was still engrossed in looking at the menu. Finally, I looked up to order, and I shrieked, “Mrs. Hobbs!” I couldn’t believe my eyes—it was Mrs. Hobbs, my math teacher. I had seen her just that day in math class. The shock of seeing her in this totally different context dumbfounded me.
Incredulous, I asked her, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m a waitress,” she replied simply.
“How can you be a waitress? You can’t be a waitress,” I stammered, “You’re a math teacher.”
“In fact, not only am I a waitress,” she answered, “but I own this cafe.”
“What?” I was stunned. “What are you doing teaching math?”
“I like it.”
This was too much for my head. Mrs. Hobbs was a math teacher; to me, she didn’t exist outside the classroom. But here I find out that she and her family own a café, that she is a waitress—and not only that, she is also somebody’s daughter and somebody’s wife, and a mother, and probably an aunt, and a friend and a host of other things.
But the real truth is, she is none of these things. She is not a daughter, she’s not a mother, not a math teacher. She is absolutely unique, created in the image of God. But I’m locked into my filing cabinet of categories and labels.