Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Clueless moment

Today was connection Sunday, and like most connection Sundays, I walk into the cafeteria of Hoffman Estates High school when it's bare, before it becomes church and see it's going to be, well, connection Sunday. I never know when it's going to be, I never make a note of it, or maybe I just never remember because there is very little connection beyond the short table talk we have during our designated time. I don't know if I like it or if I dislike it...I definitely don't dread it like the leadership assumes we do. Today, I made this weird connection with someone who wasn't even at my table, and not even during the designated time of connection. It was after service, just as we were leaving, Jude asked for some popcorn and someone sitting by offered him some. I sat down with the two of them, watching by as they munched on a mixture of popcorn, pretzels and m&ms. The guy that gave J the popcorn greeted passer by-ers just as he has greeted me if I were passing him by on any given Sunday. Most days, I would smile, nod and say hi because I'm a nice person, or I'd like to pass as one in public. I quickly walk away to sit where my child is and it's convenient because your child, when they're young, are like a shield, a barrier, a rescue from awkward conversations you'd like to avoid.

This Sunday, unlike myself, I sat down with this person and I don't know if I had been sitting on the side of this person, or on the same level as people standing near by where towering over us, I began to see what he saw on the faces of people he said hi to. Most people reciprocated with the same smile, nod and say hi combo I've been using. Even though I'm not the one that walked out on the limb to say hi, I felt a little bit of a sting of what it's like to receive the smile, not and say hi combo person after person. No one paused, no one stopped, no one gave him a "hey! how are you?" it was just polite. I said to him, "you're good at that...saying hi to people," and what he said in reply was humbling. "Well, I try to make people feel comfortable, I think we just need more of that. And I think Harvest people are pretty approachable, so I'm happy about that." I felt small and petty, here I thought I was doing him a favor by sitting with him, (and if I was sitting there, it was automatically the cool table) but he was ministering to me instead. 

This guy is relatively new to our church, and I don't see him as charismatic or popular, but he is cultivating a norm in our community that is full of warmth and love. I don't know if he ever felt lonely or left out because I rarely see him flit here and there making his stop, flower to flower, so I asked him something I happen to notice because I didn't know anything else about him. "Who is that girl you bring to with you to church now and then?" I find out that he is dating this girl, they've been dating a year, and today, he will have a difficult conversation with her that will either make or break his heart. I don't know if my heart is at a place of extreme loneliness that I asked him these questions, or if I felt a tinge of guilt for all the smile, nod and say hi combos I've given him in the past. What ever the motivation, I was humbled by him and began looking outside of what I've been feeling. Neglect. Perhaps, I'm here in this season so that I can empathize with those on the margins. I feel a little bit like Cher from Clueless the movie, where she had been forced to descend from her place of popularity to see how she had been treating other people. How it feels to be on the receiving end of the shaft. Although I do feel a sadness that my supposed friends weren't coming to my aid at the time of most need, I don't feel as entitled, for I am humbled today.