Monday, July 21, 2008

Listening

In all my gallivanting this past weekend, I ended up going out to a late dinner, and an even later, but cheap, movie with a friend of mine.

Before I get into what I am about to get into, I wanted to say that we have a Dollar Theater in our area and it is SUCH an awesome thing. In the time between when a movie leaves the regular theater, until it's released on DVD, it's in the good ol' Dollar Theater. And guess what? The reason it's called the Dollar Theater is because it only costs a mere dollar to see a movie that only weeks before would have cost you $8. How much does that rock? So we went to see Baby Mama and oh my dear good gracious I laughed. And it wasn't filthy or anything, so that's good....because even the funniest movie is ruined in my world if it's filthy.

Ok, but on to what I wanted to say. Friend and I made the executive decision to go to IHOP to eat because we were too late for the earlier movie, but obviously way to early for the late one. We needed a place to hang out, that was low key, and offered some beverage of the java variety in order to keep this Mama awake past her bedtime.

As we were being seated, I quickly noticed a large group of older people who, I assume, were fresh from the evening service at their church. There were probably 14-16 of them and they were engaged in some pretty strong conversation.

We sat there long enough to get our deeply loved beverages when a group of teenagers, dressed in some serious goth came in and were seated in between us and the elderly church-people. Naturally, the old folks looked a little disgusted and they probably said a few things that I couldn't hear.

The older group, because of the increased noise level, I guess, ended up talking at an increased volume which allowed Friend and I to hear every word pretty clearly. I will briefly pause here to say that I have deep value for a friend who you can just be quiet with. Someone who understands the importance of eavesdropping, and strives to perfect it, because at that point, we share a strong bond. ;)

So the older group proceeds to discuss everything and everyone that is wrong within their church. They were gossipping and being downright hateful. Then they started to discuss how they had nominated some of the men that were present to be in leadership and I was also able to pick up that many of them there were already serving in that capacity. After a little more debate and complaint, they filled up their bellies and headed out the door. I remarked to Friend that I sure would hate to be a part of that church, as I purposefully tore in to my Chicken Fajita Omelet.

It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realized the magnitude of the damage that had been done. The only girl that was in the party of teenagers declared that it was because of that kind of thing that she hated church and that she would never go. She went on to say that she didn't believe that there even was a God, and that she only believed in the devil. Both Friend and I stopped eating and just listened, sick to our stomachs. She couldn't have been more than 16 and she was adamant.

We were stunned and thrilled when one of the boys (who was facing me) worked up the courage to pipe up in between bites and confess that he is a Christian. He stood up to his 3 friends (really 2 because one of them was so completely high that he was barely coherant).

Now this kid is obviously struggling right now (I heard some of the things he is involved in...), but he went on to have an intelligent debate with this girl, and her boyfriend, for the Lord. He didn't cave, not even once. I leaned out, at one point, to catch his eye so that I could give him the silent encouragement of a thumbs up, just to let him know that we were hearing him and we were on his side, praying hard within ourselves. He saw me, and he gave me a quick wink. It continued on for a few minutes, and before you knew it it was over.

We sat there for a few minutes in stone cold silence, only this time not listening, just processing. The kids got up to leave and an overwhelming sadness smacked both of us right there in the middle of IHOP.

Do you see the paradox here? Do you see what we all should learn from this? There is just so much. But I want to see what stands out to you the most on this Monday morning. I don't want to preach so tell me.... What do YOU take away from this? No thought is insignificant.

19 comments:

Jenni at talking hairdryer said...

This story hits close to home because my brother's faith was derailed when he was able to witness the hypocrisy you're describing. He can't get past it.

I ache for him and others who choose to deny Jesus because of similar experiences.

It makes me take stock of every word I say, even when I consider it "venting". I want to be a positive example of Jesus and not a negative example of human sin.

Leslie said...

Wow. I just don't know what to say.

Gotta GROW with it said...

heartbreak.
sad for the girl's ignorance.
proud of the boy.
tickled that he knew you were there and winked.

above all...as a mom and on staff at a LARGE church in this town, what i say or don't say, do or don't do...everything can be a tool for the Lord or for the evil one. good reminder to keep my t's crossed and not be lazy in my testimony.

that group of older people...truly sad.

Emily said...

I think it's a dangerous thing....to get old and complacent. I want to be old and daring. I want to still be thinking outwardly when I'm old. NOT stuck in my ways so much that I can't see the truth anymore.

What a kid. Strike that....
What a brother. :)

carrie said...

I lurve this post for so many reasons.

But let me just tell you and whoever reads these comments, that this is NOT the exception!! These kids are picking up some very real vibes from the Church (as a whole, not a congregation). When I was unsaved 15 years ago, it wasn't much different and now that I am out of my "Christian Bubble" and out in the workforce (filled with unsaved people of all ages) I can tell you that hostility towards Christians abounds.

And if they're not hostile, they are just ambivalent because we are not loving each other, much less them.

Obviously I'm very passionate about this.

Distybug said...

Well, to begin with, I'm SOO fed up with people who complain about their church TO OTHER CHURCH MEMBERS. I've had an elder tell me that he was "Praisin' the Lord" because our Minister of Music wasn't there that day. It's so easy to sit back and point out all the problems, but how many people will get in there and help fix the problems?

Next, I feel that God had you in the IHOP for a reason - to support that young man in prayer while he was being attacked. Since he didn't cave, I think your job was accomplished.

Under the Florida Sun said...

You know.... I have the personality -which is good and bad at times - where I wouldn't have been able to 'respect my elders' at that moment.
I was convicted and still am, of the times where I have talked against church leadership - God always brings Miriam and Aaron to mind - when they complained against Moses - He struck them with leprosy.
I think I would have stood up and reminded those people of that story.
I'm not perfect and I know they aren't, but it's so sad to see the older generation setting a horrible example for the younger.. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? I see so much of that here in FL... weird.

Oops. Sorry for my ranting. Your support for the young man was cute light to the story ( and your friends ability to stay quiet..LOL).

I pray that God would stir the hearts of those older folks to repentance.

ok. off the soap box now. LOL.

javamamma said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Pretty powerful and heart-wrenching stuff. Wow.

Halfmoon Girl said...

I don't think it was by chance that you ended up there, encouraging that boy. I think that one of the most attractive things in the world is a grace filled, loving older person, while the opposite is very unattractive.

Mocha with Linda said...

Wow. So sad. I wish you could find those older folks and let them know. Not in a judgmental way, but just as a reminder.

It reminds me of the Publican and the Sinner going to pray. Those elderly folks had such a negative reaction to that group of kids and I'm sure felt they themselves were much more "righteous", and yet that one guy who defended his faith to his friends had a much more positive impact. And I love his wink at you! Christian cohorts connect!

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog! It's great to meet you! I love your blog and I'll be back!

And yes, I'll be at the Siesta Fiesta!

DidiLyn said...

I love that you and Friend saw what was happening at the Ihop had eternal significance and joined in by praying.
You had Jesus eyes.
Love that.
Won't comment on the church group.

Andrea said...

How cool...I love that the boy spoke up.

I wonder about that church of old people???

I am glad you had an otherwise good time with your friend. We still need a girls night out....SOON!

willblogforshoes said...

I think that's why I don't go to IHOP... :-)

Seriously, though, good for you for helping to encourage that boy.

Way More Homemade said...

It's exactly what I'm in the middle of writing about right now. We, as a people, as adults have become childish in the way we address situations. Interesting that it sounds as though these teenagers had a reasonable discussion while the adults whined and complained like 3 year olds (I know a lot about 3 year olds).

And as Christians to sit there, in a public place and complain about our church... let's act like the adults that we are, people. Tsk tsk. We should know better.

ConservaChick said...

I am crying from this post. It sums up so perfectly my own frustrations with the "church". I feel so much pain from the damages we Chrsitians are doing to our purpose. Give me a goth kid with problems who has a REAL love for the Lord over a squeeky clean church member any day. Honestly, Christians frusterate me far more than the athiests and agnostics. ~K

Becca Mae said...

I wish the older generation would realize how destructive their talking can be. They sat there and looked down on the goth kids and their quiet outward defiance not knowing their holier than thou talking defiance did more damage for the Kingdom. Kudos for the boy who stood his ground. I feel for the young kids that have such a strong negative opinion about God. Hopefully our God will use this situation for His Glory. Hope you had a fun night after that.

EEEEMommy said...

I have a sister who is not walking with the Lord and doesn't have anything to do with church precisely because of such hypocrisy. She still gets very upset by hypocrisy when she sees it, even in her workplace. Sadly, a lot of it occurred at Sunday dinner around our dinner table growing up, or in the car on the way home from church, or throughout the week. It's easy to point the finger at that older crowd, and there are many of "those," but I'm convicted that there are far too many discussions that occur between my husband and me that could be undermining what we're trying to teach our own children....

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

For the record, I agree with you, Angel (eeeemommy).

It isn't just the older crowd...not by a long shot. It just happened to be in this situation.

Hypocrisy knows no age restrictions. And it is something, I think, that we ALL have struggled with at one point or another. Or at least I have.

Natalie @ I AM (not) said...

I've been in churches with old "folks" like that. Makes me insane. They are missing out on the world because they're so sucked into what should make them happy instead of trying to figure out how to go tell people about Jesus!

Good for that young man. That took guts!

Found you thru Amy Beth! Love it!