Thursday, August 14, 2008

Real Men Take Out the Trash

In the time it took to for me to drink a sinful double-tall-decaf-mocha-breve, I was reminded of why I call my hometown, “Fishbowl, USA”.

I was simply sitting at the coffee shop, enjoying both my highly coveted window seat and my high fat, high sugar coffee bomb. I felt rather urban with my laptop and all. I fooled myself into thinking I was just an anonymous, city-dwelling girl who scored a great seat by an electrical outlet. My fantasy was short lived.

I was interrupted when an Old Friend walked in. Old Friend being someone my age that has known me long enough and well enough to recall in detail the contents of the proverbial trash can that sits outside my home. It’s a rusty dumpster filled with the stinking, rotting, scraps of sexual abuse that God asked my children to quit hiding and my husband to purge. And guess who wants to dig through it?

He sits down next to me and with the kind of lowered voice reserved for widows, the destitute and sometimes those who don’t speak English, asks, “how are you?” My mind goes blank for a moment.

Oh yeah.

I’m suddenly in the category of people that evoke tremendous sympathy from others because of a random, tragic life experience. In these moments, I can either give him an easy-breezy “I’m Great!” (which, said just right will be taken as the blow-off it’s meant to be) or, I can bite on his invitation to walk around in my trash with an honest, vulnerable smile. Because, that’s all it takes, really. Any sort of opening, and people will bite on a chance to walk in garbage.

A better Christian would’ve seen this as a time to lead this lost soul to Christ. A stronger woman wouldn’t have cared if he were offended by “I’m GREAT!” A more prepared version of me would’ve foreseen this. But on this day, I was none of those things.

I allowed Old Friend to say ignorant things to me. I allowed him to talk about my family as if he had walked in my shoes. Somehow HE needed to talk about my situation, and I passively indulged him. In this hour long, roller-coaster ride of a conversation, here are just some of the comments that have lingered:

“I can never forgive your husband. I don’t even have the time of day to think about him. If I were you, I couldn’t live here. I don’t know how you do it. I had a bad childhood, too but I must just be a stronger man. A bad childhood seems like a lame excuse. When I think I’ve had a bad day? I just think about you and I feel better.”

And I thought I was just going out for coffee.

The struggle I have with all of this isn’t about what Old Friend said. God has been so gracious with me. He’s gifted me with more than enough grace to spare for this situation. Old Friend has not walked in my shoes. Old Friend may even need to talk about this more than I do…. After all, he was also disappointed by my husband’s actions. For that, I will not throw a stone.


My dumpster? Consider it hallowed ground, Old Friend. That garbage was drug outside with blood, sweat and tears. Removed with heartache, passionate faith and heroic strength. The mere fact that you even know it exists is a privilege. When you walk by and turn your head in horror, remember this: I’ve known you as long as you’ve known me. As far as I can tell? We’re different in only one way.

My trash is on the curb.

1 comment:

Carol Davis said...

you are amazing...
i wish we lived closer..then, i could go have coffee with you and politely tell Old Friend that the judge called and he wants his gavel back...

I am terrible. I know....