You know who these people are. They’re the ones you sort of know, as in their name and a few details of their miserable lives. They see you coming and use that same line every time to strike up a conversation.
And the conversation is pointless, meandering, and happens to be all about them. There is nothing you can do for these people, so why bother listening. You have much better things to do. Escape, all you can think about is your escape. And so you learn to avoid them, look down at the right moment, or pick up your pace to avoid being trapped.
I do this sometimes. And then I think about Jesus and Paul. Paul talks about God using the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, but I don’t think that applies to this situation because these people are just dull and annoying, somewhere in between the wise and foolish which leaves me in the clear. OK, so maybe not, but that’s how I think about it.
But what can I do for these people? I really don’t want to be a friend. Really. I want boundaries. I want distance. I want to do my own thing and to be left alone.
Driving home today I had the thought: I’m a follower of Jesus, and so I don’t have the luxury of boundaries. I didn’t realize that when I prayed the “salvation” prayer. Yet another example of the bait and switch tactics of our contemporary gospel presentations that leave that whole bit about God’s Kingdom out.
Agh. So I need to rethink my policy toward certain people. I asked God where I can start, and I immediately thought of Anne Lamott’s rule for life, “Don’t be an asshole.” Well, OK, I can handle that because I’m not an asshole …
Oh right, everything I just confessed seems to say otherwise.
I suppose one place I need to begin is just slowing down, stopping to let these people catch up and say their bit. I could actually listen. I could pray for the right words to say back to them. That’s a start.
Of course I have a writing deadline tomorrow, so being nice is out. How’s Wednesday?