In my blog profile, I say something about being addicted to soul conversations. Those conversations when I connect with someone – mainly on a deep level or in some intimate way through stories or thoughts.
On a plane recently, I sat next to a 30-something girl named Tia. We shared so much in that few hours up in the air that it seemed like we had known each other for years. She even took my e-mail address and phone number, asking if I would want to join her and her sister (who lives close to me) for a girls night out next time she visits. Tia is facscinating because she paints and embellishes jeans with all sorts of fun designs. She teaches in her hometown’s inner city, where she even hugs her students (in a public school!) because she believes these kids need to experience appropriate adult touch more than stoic discipline. Her husband is a cop and she admits she is loud and hard to be married to. I liked her immediately. She is funny, cute and passionate.
Rob was a guy I met in California. We struck up a conversation at Goodwill. Rob is looking for a job. I am looking for a cheap jacket to stay warm in this unpredictable weather. He’s from Santa Barbara and asks where I’m from. Of course my answer is followed by the “Go Colts,” schtick. Rob is not shy. In fact, most people would say he has no filter.
He tells me that he wants to get a new lease on life and that he has just moved here to Monterey. He goes on to say that he and his last fiance (as if there were several) had intended to name their daughter Peyton but he thought maybe it was more of a boy name. Oh, so you have a daughter? No, he says, that was if we had gotten married and had kids. Oh, I respond with my best poker face, as if this is normal Goodwill-shopping-chatter. Then I tell him I know two Peytons that are girls (three if you consider that one of my Peyton friends has a daughter with two first names, the second part being Peyton. They’re from the South.) Then I told him we had considered Brecken for a girl, which is also a boy’s name… but we didn’t care because Breckenridge is a special place to us. I think it is I who is sharing too much now. To this Rob shouts, “NO WAY!” and pulls out his driver’s license. “Look,” he says. And right there on his license is his name: Robert Breckenridge Something.Wow! What a coincidence, I say. I know, I can’t believe it, he says, like we have just discovered we were twins separated at birth. We both browse some more and he pipes up again: So, you think Peyton or Brecken could go both ways. I shrug trying to decide between the fleece and the wool jacket. Rob tries to engage again. “But hey, that Peyton Manning is awesome, huh?” And we’re back to the Colts. Rob goes on to predict the next game. “Colts by a 13 point spread.” I agree, even though I don’t even know who they are playing. Then I tell him good luck on his job search and off I go to pay for the wool jacket.
The next day as I journaled, I thought about Rob and about Tia. I smile at their faces at the door of my memory. Suddenly I am jolted by a shameful thought…what if Tia talked non-stop about her molecular science project or her job as an m&m quality controller, would I be thankful that God had our paths cross? What if Rob wanted to talk more about Britney Spears or which tequila brand he prefers. Would I have engaged a conversation with him as long as I had when he talked about my hometown football team and a place I love to ski?
I have actually said these words aloud: “I don’t have time for that type of person,” meaning the shallow, boring, flat person. How egotistical. How judgmental. Just because someone doesn’t have the same interests as me does not make them any less worthy to be heard or to be pursued. Deep down the m&m sorters, Britney-lovers and drunks have something to offer. It’s probably not even as deep down as my superior being would imagine.
This summer my friend’s nephew came over to our house so my husband could check out his aching ear. Christian is 14 and has a huge reptile collection in his room. He even has an incubator for the eggs in his closet. I hate reptiles. Of all the reptiles I have ever met, not one has stolen my heart. Not even close. Yet Christian is passionate and knowledgeable about these creatures. And when he talks about them, he lights up. Just because I can’t stand reptiles, that doesn’t mean Christian is boring or flat or stupid. Thankfully something clicked when I asked him about his “friends” and I saw that these reptiles were more than little pets. So I put on my reporter hat to gain an understanding of Christian’s collection. I don’t remember a thing about one of his scaly friends, not even a name, I do remember what his face looked like and how his posture changed. Who knows? He could have been annoyed with all of my questions but my hope is that for a moment he felt cared for and understood and important – because he is worth understanding and knowing. I don’t hold onto that hope just for my own “give-me-kudos” chart, although at times my ego does get in the way; I have that hope because that is Christ in me; that is Christ pouring out his love for his people during a little connection. This is when I am most whole, when it is not I but Christ who lives in me.
God performs amazing wonders in this hardened heart of mine. If I keep that door open even a smidgeon, he can get in and have his way. When he enters that hard, dark place, he grabs a hold of whatever he can and he kneads it and gently pounds it until it becomes the pliable, workable heart he intended. The heart that longs for his transforming power… that longs for Him.