At Status the other night, Josh Loveless told this story about his encounter with a young woman in downtown Orlando a couple of weeks ago. He talked about how she had initiated a conversation and they began to talk. She was clearly in need and Josh felt like he was supposed to talk to her, but resisted and kind of skirted around having to go very deep. He very smoothly curtailed the conversation and moved on to be with his friends. He saw her at another party later that day, but avoided talking with her.
He initially led us to believe that he done what he thought might have happened had he stepped into that moment and engaged her in conversation. (He tricked us as an audience actually…) He said that he eventually talked with her about religion and faith and turns out she was considering an abortion. He invited her to dinner with his wife and eventually the girl made a decision to keep the baby and become a follower of Jesus.
Josh attempted to “bring her out on stage” so she could share her story with us, and as we were clapping to welcome her, no one came.
Because it didn’t really happen. Oh, the girl was real, but Josh had done nothing except do everything in his power to preserve his comfort and avoid talking with her.
At first, I railed against the notion of Josh sort of playing to our emotions in that way (I kind of loathe it when speakers contrive scenarios like that to make their point), but then it hit me like a ton of bricks—I had done the same thing to someone only a few weeks earlier.
On Monday nights, I usually head to Chik-Fila with a bunch of friends—mostly from FCC—and we partake in free Chik-Fila glory and goodness, largely due to the fact that my friends are Chik-Fila fiends and they go to every Chik-Fila opening possible and therefore hoard hundreds of coupons for free combo meals and chicken sandwiches. It’s our weekly ritual to go to Chik-Fila at 6:30 p.m. every Monday and then usually head over to the Cortez’s to play board games (Scrabble is so much better than Nerts) or Wii.
We were sitting in the usual corner of the restaurant when I noticed an older man, slumped over kind of shuffle his way through the restaurant. He clearly had no money for food and was simply sitting at an empty table. He had the look of a completely broken, dejected man.
I suddenly felt this urge to talk to him or at least offer him some food. I walked by his table once and felt that urge, but also suppressed it. Why? All I wanted to do was have fun and hang out with my friends.
No matter that I had only specifically prayed the day before for God to give me opportunities to initiate conversation and to serve and love in the moment.
When I lived up in Gainesville, it became this habit of mine to every now and then take homeless people to lunch when they asked me for money on the street. I remember my friend Steph always used to get mad at me for doing that, because I was a young, single woman and who knows what would happen, but I was smart enough to only do it in the daytime and in very public places, so I was never too worried. It was always this wonderfully awkward time where I could just get out of myself for awhile and just listen to someone else’s story.
So there was definitely precedent. But that Monday in Chik-Fila, I was just not in the mood. I was with my friends, I didn’t want to be in ‘serving’ mode. So I simply ignored what was a very clearly urging and did nothing. I struggled and resolved the inner tension and decided “no” in all of 20 seconds.
And then I completely erased that scenario from my mind. Until this past Sunday night.
And I suppose I could make all these resolutions about what I”ll do “next time.” But see, that’s the problem. I’m always thinking about what I’ll do “next time” and never have the courage to step up and do the right thing “this time.” I long to be completely genuine and heartfelt in the serving and in the moment. To not contrive or force things but to simply speak and act and be part of that “conversation” that our generation loves to dialogue about.
But I guess now that I once again feel the gravity of what it means to so completely fail, I pray I can act and speak in love—not to ease my guilt or conscience—but because God and His kingdom are true.