Plans change. I planned on getting back to the book on this post but before I got to read anymore, the Lord gave me a test. I met a girl at our weekly young adult group last night. The first thing I noticed about her was the forceful look of defiance in her eyes. That, and the pain they concealed. It reminded me of the first time I met the friend that she came with. When she spoke, her words were just as sharp as I could have envisioned them; very sharp and very opinionated too.
By the second time she spoke, it was quite apparent to me that we were going to disagree a lot, so I said it before I waded into the group convo to respond to her viewpoints. I had nothing against her, but it was obvious that we had come from two different worlds.
It wasn’t until after the study was over that I was able to hear a bit of her story. I did my best to take in every detail of her story of the New Mexican drug dealers and gangs that consumed her life and the lives of those around her. I felt some of the weight of her load as she spoke and affirmed everything she said the best I could and continued the conversation by sharing about my hope to see environments like this transformed through Christian community and education.
Strike 1. She wanted to be heard, she didn’t want to hear me.
I don’t remember everything she said after that, but I remember the point:
“You need to get off of your high horse sometimes.”
The words stung as they sliced across my exposed skin. Within a couple hours of mostly indirect interaction, she had pegged me. Her decision: I’m an arrogant prick. It was quite obvious that she didn’t like me, that’s what I decided in my head, anyway.
Strike 2. Women mostly communicate emotionally, so I should have focused on why she said what she said, not what she actually said.
As she went on, she spoke of some Christians who were doing something somewhat similar to what we do at Lakeside where she lived, but they left to serve in some 3rd world country, effectively abandoning her city and reinforcing an ideology that dying people in Africa are more important than dying people in front of you.
That was the perfect opportunity for me to remember the pain of being abandoned and rejected after deeply trusting someone (like the friend who brought her), and simply hurting with her; looking deep into her eyes and telling her that I understand her pain. Telling her that I could never imagine the how much she had to go through at that point, and how much I respected her strength for having made it through to the other side. That’s exactly what she needed from me, it was so apparent.
But I was so blind. I was so blinded by my own pride that all I could do was defend myself. I did my best to be as transparent and genuine in that very vulnerable moment, but ‘B’ ain’t an answer when the test is True/ False.
Strike 3. I was so concerned with my need for validation that I ignored hers.
All she really wanted was for me to respect and accept her. Thats why she said everything she did, her scars were laid wide open before me, and I completely ignored them. She needed to see a Christian that was hurt and angry that those other Christians would devalue her in such a way. She even talked about her experience at Crosspoint Church and how they had loved and accepted her, leading to her conversion. Until I have a chance to engage her again, I represent every negative stigma she has about Christians, all because just when I needed it most, I forgot about everything God had been teaching me for the last several weeks. Do I deserve for her to see me that way? Sure as hell. I’m not okay with letting it go on though. I’m gonna try to change that next time I see her, not only for my sake and hers, but for the sake of Christ, and the Gospel.
Edit 4/2/11: I saw her at a play tonight and just didn’t feel God telling me to engage her, it just seemed really inappropriate. I think I have another plan though.