Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thank you for strangers at bus-stops, New Revised Edition

I am so glad for strangers, strange-to-me people, who talk with me. It's like being friends with the proverbial box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get, but isn't it fun?

Three days ago at work I met Peter and Laura. Each wearing their JESUS SAVES t-shirts I "knew" the moment I laid eyes on them that I was not going to enjoy our exchange. Peter asked me if I had any material in the store about our savior and Lord, Jesus Christ... Here we go I thought. I told him, no at this moment we did not have anything specifically about Jesus in the store. He began what I perceived as the usual missionary diatribe, Have you accepted our Lord Jesus into your heart? Do you believe Jesus Christ, son of God, died for your sins?

This kind of exchange has never been interesting to me, I actually find it quite offensive. I could feel many years of negative experience with zealous christian proselytizers boiling up inside me, but being at work as a fairy godmother it's not my job as an employee, nor especially as a human, to be rude or offensive. I chose to say that I was at work and did not feel that it was an appropriate topic of discussion. However, this was a cop out since at Fairy Godmother talking about God/Spirit is one of the most likely topics of conversation. Not only was it a cop out, for me it was a darn lie. I just wasn't sure how to be authentic and be a nice/kind human.

Peter said of course he could respect (which he couldn't) that I was at work and would not try to engage me further but he really would like to know if I believed Jesus was the son of God. I had to ask myself if this was an opportunity not to lie in order to avoid a perceived conflict? What the hell. I actually said yes, I do believe Jesus is the son of God. Then it was do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead to show us the mystery of God's will? As I talked with Peter and Laura I realized I had no lies in my mouth and that my anger had dissipated. So I said yes, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

Of course Peter and Laura were persistent but something in me had shifted. I fully realized that along with my anger had gone a basic belief that other people had any right to define my relationship with the Mysterious J. Seems basic enough, doesn't it? But at what point in my life did I give someone else the right to define my relationships? How often do I choose complicity over dialogue?

Better yet, how often do I assume I "know" what's going to happen in a given situation?

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