It is Aug. 10 at 9:30 a.m.and I am standing in a line with a seven of hearts stuck to my forehead. I am surrounded by other sevens. Not too far away are sixes and eights. Far behind me in line are the two's and three's, while far ahead are the kings and queens.
Let me go back and explain. At the time I found myself standing with a seven of hearts on my forehead, I was at training with 63 other United Methodist pastors at a beautiful retreat center near Atlanta. The morning's speaker had passed around some decks of cards, asking us to take one card from the deck not looking at it. He then instructed us to attach it face up to our foreheads, at which point everyone else saw our card except us.
We were then instructed that the aces, kings, queens and jacks were royalty and needed to be treated as such, that the two's, three's, four's were the scum of the earth and were to be treated as such, and everyone else was somewhere in between and to be treated based on the numbers. Our next instruction was to walk through the room and let people know their card without saying a word.
As I walked through the room bowing to the kings and queens, shunning twos and threes, I found people shrugging their shoulders at me as I was doing to the middle cards. After about three minutes, he instructed all those who thought they were royalty to assemble in one corner, all the two's, three's and four's at the other corner, and everyone else was to gather in between. He then instructed us to order ourselves without words. This was the easiest part because we physically moved sixes by other sixes and sevens by other sevens and on up the line.
When we were done (only about five minutes after we drew our card from the deck) we were all standing in a line perfectly ordered from ace's to two's. Without a word being said, we had communicated to each other exactly where each one stood. We were then asked to respond how we felt. As you would expect, the royalty said that it felt pretty good and the two's and three's said it felt pretty bad. We, who were in the middle, seemed to have the worst feelings because we never could figure out exactly where we stood.
Of course, this was only an exercise. We all took the cards off our foreheads and returned to our seats. Yet, in this five-minute experience, we remembered that without ever saying a word, we tell people in our lives where they stand. We do this based on the clothes people wear or the car they drive, the job they do, the positions they hold, or the money they have. Our actions put people in their place all the time. Some we treat as two's, others as royalty, while others we treat like sevens.
God doesn't do that. God sees each and every person as a king or queen. God sees beyond the clothes, the cars, the jobs, the status symbols to see the treasure in each person's heart and hold them in God's heart. Every person is a king or queen of hearts in God's eyes.
For the rest of the week, I would from time to time, look around the room and picture a king of hearts on the forehead of everyone sitting in the room - district superintendents, pastors with large churches, pastors with small churches, and pastors with churches in between. I found that as I looked at them all as kings of hearts, I treasured each and every one in the room as equally important royalty, as a precious child of God.
I hope to continue to picture kings of hearts on people's foreheads for as I do, I believe I see with God's eyes. May we all see one another with kings of hearts on our foreheads.
Pastor Diann O'Bryant is the minister of Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman St., Marietta. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.