Were my eyes glazing over?  I was trying my best to at least be polite, if not interested, in what my friend had to say…

She was talking about how important it was to share the message of her Lord, and that he’d be returning any day.

“Any day!!”  She emphasized boldly.

Okay, she wasn’t actually a friend, more of an acquaintance.  I had been standing in line at Starbucks waiting to place my order when she noticed me in line, just three people behind her.  After she placed her order, she came and stood with me and started talking about her bible study group.

“It’s so important to get God’s message out there you know,” she smiled so sweetly, “the world is in utter chaos, and,” she lowered her voice to a conspirative whisper, “if the Muslims don’t take over, you know the Mormon’s will,” she winked at me and gave me a little poke with her elbow.  “It’s the Devil’s plan!” she nodded.

“You should come to bible study with me!” she announced cheerfully, as if the idea has just popped into her head, while giving my shoulder a slightly too hard shove.

I placed my order, and we went and stood at the other end of the counter, to wait patiently with the other customers for our coffee.

“We need to show love,” she continued.  “Jesus asked us to love each other, and you know,” she winked again, “there’s not much of that going on in the world right now, and that’s just how the Devil likes it!”

A cheerful barista called out my friend’s name, and she grabbed her coffee with a polite nod and a curt “thank you,” as she continued on with her campaign to get me to come with her to her bible study group.

But then a funny thing happened as she tasted her coffee.  The world seemed to stop for just a moment, and she rolled her eyes in irritation.  She pushed her way back to the counter and not so gently shoved the cup into the barista’s face.

“This is NOT what I ordered!   If you all are too obtuse to make a simple cup of coffee, I’ll go down the street!”

Well…  nothing at Starbuck’s is ever simple, but the message of my friend’s Lord was pretty simple.  Love each other.  Forgive.

There is a reason children learn from watching, because the words of an adult rarely match their actions; in fact, we are often walking contradictions.  You can’t preach love, and then act hateful, and expect people to get the message of love.

You can’t preach compassion, but then act judgmental.  The message of compassion will never be received.

I know, I know… walking the walk is never as easy as talking the talk, and heaven knows there are days when our inner devil takes over.  But people will never learn from the things we say; our actions have to match our words.

I never went to bible study with this gal, and when I go into Starbucks now, I’ll admit, I take a quick look around as I step in the door.

But I did learn a great lesson from her.  We cannot spread a message that does not already live in our heart.


2 Responses to Actions or words?

  1. Joe K says:

    Deanna – I experience that sort of thing frequently, living in Memphis – the “buckle of the Bible belt” … sometimes I deal with such folks skillfully, other times not so much. It sometimes is a reflection of the mood I happen to be in at the time.

    Ideally, I know from studying Buddhism that to adopt an “us vs them” attitude is only going to increase my own suffering, and likely not to change their minds either.

    My best bet is to wish them well & limit the sharing of dogma & opinion talk. I have no problem with stating my views if directly asked, and enjoy doing so if a person is genuinely curious – but the notion that I can change another person’s mind thru logic or debating skills is an illusion …

    … but even if I did, as the Buddha instructed, everything is impermanent – and that includes the debates and debaters and especially all the feelings and emotions that go along with it!

    A lotus for you – a Buddha to be .. Joe

  2. Analyzah says:

    It’s a funny thing, I know exactly what you mean in this exchange with the Christian who didn’t exhibit this attitude of forgive others and walk the talk. But, I must say, I don’t know one person alive who hasn’t been rude and bossy, not one. Even Jesus was rude and bossy and he threw tables down for people who were selling some doves for a religious ceremony. What I don’t understand, and I’ve seen it time and time again, is how can anyone feel smug about anything? How can anyone point the finger at someone else. We all have our ideas and theories about how things should be. So what? I would have to say, the touch and the shove thing, when you felt that on your shoulder, what can you do? Observe it? How about observing yourself? Doesn’t that count? When you walk in Starbuck’s next time, be in yourself, and forget about being separate and looking around for that (bad example of someone else). Forget about that. It isn’t worth one thin dime.

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