Wednesday, November 12, 2008
They Will Know You by your Love
The other day I ordered coffee at the little stand in the hospital to take up to my dad. I got halfway to his room when I remembered it had to be decaf. So I went back to the stand and told the woman I needed to buy another cup. She dumped out the real and gave me the unleaded, and when I tried to pay her, she wouldn't accept it. I was so emotional at that moment that I burst into tears at her kindness. Today, when I returned she said "Oh, I remember you--the DECAF!" "Yes, and you were so kind to me when I really needed it," I said. "How's your dad doing?" "He's better." "Oh, good. What's his name? I want to remember him in my good wishes." "Frank." And I don't know why I asked, because I don't usually, and I don't believe only Christians have the ability to pray (and she didn't use the word "pray"), but I asked "Are you a Christian?" "Well, I believe in Jesus and I follow his teaching, but I don't like all the connotations connected with being called a Christian." Hmmm. Sad that Christians are regarded as close-minded, homophobic, hell-preaching, judgemental, hypocrites. I know we've earned the labels. We mess up IN THE NAME of Christianity (Like in the case of the hellfire preacher or the people who are mean to gays.) We mess up unapologetically, as if Christians have a RIGHT to be judgemental or mean-spirited. I'm frustrated that a label that should have good connotations, (if we really lived the life he taught), makes people cringe. Christianity is radically different from other religions because instead of saying "Here's how to live a good life and find fulfillment and reach heaven," it says living a good life is impossible. We are self-centered people who are incapable of living in a kind, moral way. We all blow it. We need forgiveness. So, in a way, the kind woman at the coffee kiosk was right-Christians are often unkind. I feel bad about that, and try to follow his teachings, but I also realize it's impossible, and that's why he came.