Last night I received an e-mail from a man with whom I had shared a few lunches and a couple of day trips, commonly called “dates”. These “dates” occurred at least a couple of years ago if not three. He had heard of my impending move and was concerned about my choice of “location, location, location”. He wrote to express himself and to ask me to reconsider due to the isolation of the area.
I responded, probably in more detail than he appreciated. I responded in such detail because I remember him to be the most cynical and critical man I have ever met. I shared my story of this new home, my testimony, simply. His response surprised me. I expected argument and cynicism; instead I received encouragement and acceptance. He also shared the significance that those “dates” had meant to him and expressed his high regard for me.
Ironically, I had chosen to distance myself from him because the cynicism, skepticism and anger at the unfairness of life became a burden for me. He is not a bad guy particularly. He is extremely intelligent. He is an “over thinker” and relies heavily on logic. He is a computer programmer and has held the same job for ages, earning the respect of his employers to the point that he now works at home and sets his own hours. He has owned his home now for over ten years in a very desirable location downtown. He is not a bad guy. We simply view life from opposing sides of the table yet we both approach life based on what is true. He is a person who lives by truth in logic, truth by sight; I prefer life based on faith in the person who is Truth.
I had not particularly seen these lunches and day trips as dates per se, for I knew that I could not, would not, be comfortable in spending a lot of time with him. I had not viewed him as “relationship” material but had tried to be a friend. He has contacted me several times over the past few years wanting new adventures; I have been forthright in my uneasiness and declined the offers. His high regard surprises, and humbles, me.
Ironically, my testimony of faith, my story about the house did not rouse his anger, cynicism and skepticism. He did not present an argument against my decision but accepted the decision after he understood the “logic” behind my choice of location.
It is rather ironic, isn’t it, that we make life-changing decisions for ourselves and sometimes the natural response from folks around us is encouragement and affirmation and sometimes the response is opposition and resistance? Their response may surprise us, as it did with me and this friend. I expected what comes naturally to him but I received something else. I wonder had I not shared my story in simple vulnerability would he have reacted negatively? It would have been ever so easy for me to be defensive about my decision, knowing his bent for combativeness and cynicism.
Perhaps even though he proclaims the life of faith is not for him, he recognizes and accepts where I am in life. Perhaps it is because I did spend time with him, revealing who I am and not trying to change him, that he chose not to tear apart my decision with his razor-sharp mind.
When there is a consistency in what we profess to be true and how we live, it is easier for others to hold us in high regard, even though they may not agree with us. If we are known as human pinball machines, bouncing around the bumpers of life with noisy drama punctuating our every move, perhaps the people around us are right in their doubt in our decisions. If they see a lack of stability, only our erratic reactions to life’s constantly changing circumstances, perhaps those around us should be concerned about the lack of truth in our reality.