Friday, September 4, 2009

Kindness and honesty

Do you remember the saying, I asked God for patience and he gave me opportunities to be patient instead (or something to that effect)? Yeah, today was just one obvious opportunity after another. My problem isn’t patience (or at least it’s not at the moment), but sharing my faith. Once upon not so long ago, I had so few conversations about religion (let alone my religion) that people didn’t even know I was Catholic. It just never came up, ever. Perhaps it’s because I’ve moved to Alabama, and I’m sure it’s because I have since completely surrounded myself with all things Catholic, but I find myself in random religious discussions all the time. It happens with (of course) my Catholic friends, most of my other friends, and even complete strangers. But I still feel like I miss opportunities all the time. Remaining silent, when I know I should speak, bringing it up when others are dancing around a topic. It’s something I’ve really been trying to work on. I’ve pledged to not pass up any more opportunities that present themselves.

Today was a pretty obvious opportunity. I was supposed to go swimming at 10am, but when I called to find out the open hours, I learned that we couldn’t go swimming until 11. This left me in my apartment for an hour essentially just waiting. Just then, I heard a knock on the door. It was the man who was going to fix our refrigerator. It had been leaking for a few days. He quickly diagnosed the problem as ice build up, which meant he would have to melt all the ice that had frozen in the drain. He was going to be here for the next 45 minutes or so.

He started light conversation by asking where everyone in the apartment was from. Never actually thinking about this before, I realized that all my roommates are from different states. He asked how we knew each other and I said we met at church. Thus, finding out we’re Catholic. The conversation led to military life, college life, then back to faith. And as he heated water and scraped out chunks of ice, he told me his entire story. About how lost he was in high school and really searching in college. About the people he meet that influenced his life and the directions they led him. He told me he decided he couldn’t be a Christian if he was hypocritical in his beliefs and actions, and that he wanted to give up because he felt he couldn’t truly follow Christ. After going through details of where his life led him, he ended up pentecostal (although he said he belongs to an independent church and not the pentecostal church). He told me the exact time and day that he was saved.

We didn’t debate really, which I don’t think I could really do with a total stranger, but I feel as though I did share my faith with him. I’m getting better at having normal conversations about these things, but I need to improve. One thing he said, that I really wish I would have responded to better, is that he wanted to go back to the teachings of Jesus. He didn’t want anything added or taken away from it, no traditions, just follow what Jesus taught.

I thought of what I should have said later (and I will share as an attempt to redeem myself). Traditions should be looked at to make sure they have merit, but to do away with them just because they are traditions is wrong. Traditions always have a lot of meaning, most of which points us to things we may not understand. But through performing the traditions, they help us know and bring us to believe what the meaning points to. Jesus himself participated in traditions, such as the Passover Seder, but he also did away with traditions if they lost their true meaning. We should strive to do the same.

So anyway, that’s just one of the encounters I’ve had today. Other lessons: If you are simply kind to someone, by smiling and wishing them a great day, or by giving a ride home, it can impact them more than just the act itself. It really caught me off guard.


  1. What a great opportunity. And, I think you used the opportunity well. Sometimes it's just planting seeds, even if you are not the one to water them or watch them grow.

  2. "We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."

    Mother Teresa