Yesterday I met someone for the first time. It was filled with those moments that we all have when you meet someone for the first time. There were plenty of moments filled with that awkward silence we all know. Awkward because for some reason when we first meet another we need to fill the space with words, we can only sit in silence we people we know or people we aren’t paying attention to at all.
There were the getting-to-know-you questions some without verbs. “Where you from?”
“California. Where you from?” The thing about a lot of those questions is that they don’t quite inspire conversation. “Where have you visited?” Again only one word answers. “What do you do?” Sometimes this question moves people on toward having more of a conversation. In my line of work I have found that the moment someone finds out what I do the person changes the way he or she was interacting with me. One moment we are having a casual getting to know each other conversation, the next moment is… well it’s just a little different.
Sometimes people feel like they have to tell me where they go to church which I have taken to mean is their way of letting me know that they believe in God. It is as though they are saying, “Hey listen I believe so you don’t need to pressure me into going to your church.” And if they didn’t tell me that I might invite them, if we got to that place where an invitation would seem appropriate that is, because I love my church. I love the people, I think the Spirit moves in that place, I know people who have discovered their God at that place and I have seen miracles happen there.
Other times the person tries to stop talking to me. Maybe such people have been hurt by religion so many times that they can no longer deal with it. That happens a lot, religious people being like all other kinds of people (even if we don’t like to admit it) hurt people. If I had not felt the call of God there are some “religious” people I have met that would keep me from ever wanting to be a part the whole mess. So I say what I do and those people who have been hurt by religion see me as all that has hurt them. I don’t blame them, but I do wish they would try to get to know me, and often times I would like to get to know them too. Maybe if we kept talking grace would show up and talk too, and who knows maybe even healing would happen.
Then there are the people who want to talk to me all the more. Maybe they are religious or maybe their not, maybe they believe in God or maybe they don’t, but they want to talk about God, because for some people God is just too interesting not to talk about. These people tell me their stories and want to hear mine. They share their ideas of the divine, their struggles, their joys, their sorrows, their anger, and whatever else, because when we actually take the time to talk about God we realize that we can talk about everything, nothing is off limits, and maybe that is why God is just so interesting in the first place.
This guy I met, he was the third type. He didn’t come out and say it, but he kept bringing up God. First it was kind of as a joke because he told me he didn’t believe in God, but he just couldn’t stop himself. And after awhile there we were, talking all about God. I wasn’t trying to get him to believe, but I am not ashamed to tell him why I believe. And I don’t believe in order to be “saved” so much, I believe because the world I live in is so much better with God. I believe because when I see the beauty that is all around me sometimes I can see God. I believe because I have seen ordinary events become holy moments and I have no idea how it happened. I believe because I have seen people in love, and something about love always makes God seem closer. I believe because… well because … well I have no idea really, but I love it, and I wish everybody else could have that love too. Life with God is so much better than life alone, but so many of us choose to be all alone. You’re not alone, and I’m not alone, and if we could offer the world anything it would be telling people about a God who is so interesting that we cannot help it.
At the end of our time together this guy I had just met said, “thank you.” Maybe he’ll never believe in God, but I hope he wants to keep talking about God because if he does some day he might just find himself believing and have no idea why.