Strange Confessions: An Open Call to Know You Better
Strange Confessions: I use to sleep over at a girl’s apartment when I was growing up.
I was around 4 years old, and my best friend was a girl named Heidi. She had lived in our neighborhood and moved to an apartment complex a few miles away. I remember a picture of me sitting in the dirt with Heidi nearby. I missed her greatly and asked if I could visit. Our parents, I think her parents were divorced, which may explain the move and apartment and not remembering her dad, allowed me to stay overnight. If I think hard enough I can picture her small room, and her getting ready for bed behind her closet door. This, in fact, may be my earliest memory. It was all innocent and I don’t think it happened often, but, as childhood friends occasionally do, we grew apart.
Eventually I forgot about her. Apparently my mom was still friends with her mom. When I was in Junior High, my mom came home with a picture of Heidi. I was a lonely kid looking for love, as much as a young boy my age can look, always seeking the things I didn’t have, much like I am today. Today I dwell on friends lost and people who are seemingly always together with great relationships, rather than what I have. Hey, I am working on it. This picture I got of Heidi was beautiful. She had long brown hair, and a cute little smile with teeth covered by braces. I kept this photo underneath my mattress, pulling it out to gaze over my future wife. I had this secret dream that I would someday meet her again and we would fall in love and people would be amazed that I could keep such a wonderful secret from the world of a beautiful treasure. I hid this because I knew my brother would make fun of me if he found out. No one at my school knew of her either.
The photo is long gone, as most childhood dreams for me seem to go; faded by a rebellious teen experiencing his parents broken marriage, failing out of school, and finding things that would take his memory off of his life.
I am reminded by this story by a recent discussion I had with a mother of one of my daughter’s friends. This mother is young, perhaps, some would say, too young to have a daughter her age. She is also single. According to the mother, she had talked to the parents of some of her daughter’s friends. She wanted to take some kids to an amusement park a few hours away, and have a sleep over the previous night so they could get going. One of the moms told her that since she is a Christian, she doesn’t want her daughter in their house or spending that inordinate amount of time with her. As she was telling me this, she was obviously upset, in the snarky kind of way she can be. She said that this mother could have just told her that she doesn’t want her daughter to sleep over since she doesn’t know that well. I told her that, as a Christian, I apologize and understand that we, as a people, could suffer with a bit more tact.
It also has reminded me of my relationship with a recently discovered old friend. He is an atheist. He has said some things on, that one site, that has made me think his hostility towards Christians was increasing. Yet he asked me the other day on a matter of the Bible. I was encouraged by him, discovered more about who his friends may be, and enjoyed finding out some things about what he had asked me. Some of the things another “theist” as he calls them, had some very far out ideas about what he asked about. I told him that we all have some fairly crazy ideas, yet the point is for me to delve deeper into why they have come to these conclusions, and in that way become more knowledgeable about each other and open in our discussions with each other. We may meet up with people we don’t like very much or come into a heated argument, but what is the point of relationships if we can’t find out more about each other. I have another friend, on that one site, who was my best friend in high school, who is openly hostile towards people of any religion. I suspect he hasn’t come across very many Christians who’ve displayed the type of love, mercy, understanding and compassion that we are called to display. I suppose that most people’s experiences with “Christians” have been negative.
We, like those of the world, would much prefer to stay with each other, with those of like mind. We surround ourselves with people who agree with us, so it isn’t hard. Yes, yes, I agree there are exceptions, but I believe these are the perceptions we have of each other. I would like to have broad sweeping discussions about what I believe, you believe, how we came to these conclusions, but there is a barrier there. And it goes both ways. As Christians we see a tolerance towards all religions, except ours. As humanistic/atheistic people you’re sick and tired of the judgmental ways we tell you you should be, or your perception of us forcing it upon you. I believe we can agree that we all want our world to meet the visions we have for it. Can we talk? I mean seriously, can we talk? One old friend who I had on that one site once posted, “I hate closed minded people.” It was obvious from some of the other things she was saying, was that she was against most of what I believe, political and spiritual. I found that viewpoint very closed minded in itself. Why, why why? I want to talk to you. Perhaps not publicly, maybe privately, because the masses will choose sides and then it will eventually come apart. Then division will grow. I want to know you more. Open it up.
Like the memories of Heidi, I hope to hold memories of you all as positive. I want to be there for you, if there is a chance for that. My writings are about practice, but more to the point, it’s about you knowing me. Can I have that opportunity from you?