Today a family of three came into the store. I worked hard to keep there glasses full, the table clean. I always initiated the conversation trying to show them I wasn't just working, but honestly cared for them. Never a smile, never a "how are you?" in return. And yet as they left I began clearing the table. Waiting in a small pile were three dollar bills, a bit of change, not even 10% of the bill but as I do every time I clean a table I thank God for the tip. However this time I also added in a, "I'm glad I had this table and my coworker didn't." Underneath the meager tip was a piece of paper entitled "Lost or Saved" with a cross on the front. As I piled it in with the rest of my trash I thought to myself, "Words, empty words is what they just gave me. Where was the love? The joy at least? Without love the words are simply trash or worse another weight on the receivers already too heavy burden."
Shortly there after two preteens, their mother and her parents were seated in my section. Just before they ate as I was taking an order at the other end of the dining room I heard grandpa say, "It's time to pray." Never did a cup run dry or a need go unmet as they enjoyed lunch. The bill was over $40 dollars, the tip was again less then 10%. As I set the table again my heart hurt because both families lived up to the reputation Christians have given servers.
A fellow server, obviously gay, served food in the middle of prayer once. Immediately after he walked into the wait station with, "Wow, I interrupted that family's prayer. They were probably praying for me anyway. I guess I just gave them more reason to."
Or another server asked once what we did with the tracks people gave us. She stores hers in a box afraid that a hell might really exist and thinks throwing them away might put her one step closer to it. She also wonders who they are to judge her when they don't even know her. "What if I believed in God just like they do?" she said as she tucked the hard, cold words into her coat pocket.
It hurts that Christian after Christian show my coworkers that there understanding of Christians being stingy, smug, arrogant, and unforgiving is actually spot on truth.
There is no question in any of my coworkers minds that I am a lover of Jesus. I know for some of them to put me in the Christian category takes work, and I'm not sure they can even do it. Honestly when the word Christian comes up everything about me changes, a 50 ton rock lands in my gut, my skin twitches, and my shoulders sag.
A few times we've had straight up belief conversations. Those usually start with "aliens or no aliens," the conversation evolves into "creation or evolution," with some ideas that actually we came from mythological creatures thrown in. Belief talks are fun talks not talks of the heart. Talks of the heart is my reaction to daily life that makes them wonder what's different about me. Things I never even remember sharing with them will come back up weeks later in question format, "you do this, right?" a test to make sure I wasn't just spouting off some hogwash like those who pray a bit too loudly.
Today was a big step in our relationships. It all started with an awful night. The restaurant was full, maybe three tables were empty in the whole place. I was serving 11 tables at once. Turns out quite a few tables stiffed me. Just after the rush my shift manager decided that he wanted to leave no later then 15 minutes after close and insisted that I begin my closing chores rather then doing the normal dining room clean up. Please note close was 2 1/2 hours away. Then he began asking me every five minutes what I had left to do, for two hours he did this. Needless to say, much to my shame, the closer we got to close the more my attitude stank. In short I was a butt. I was still fuming at 1 in the morning. But as I dressed for work this morning I decided I had to do the right thing and apologize. So I did. At the hut word spreads like a wild fire, so those who didn't work knew and some even asked me about it. With those who asked details I emphasized that it didn't matter if I was justified in my anger I was still a butt. I was wrong.
I am no better then those Christians that leave tracks, but don't bother to ask how your day is going. I am no better then those who make sure at least half the restaurant know they are about to pray and then leave an awful tip. The good Lord knows I've done both. I am just as sinful as they are, but I live life honestly. My love is flawed, but my love is honest. Isn't that what Jesus wants? Honest love.
Before you pat me on the shoulder with sad eyes nodding your head at how horrible it is that other Christians do this, please, I beg you, think about the last time you were leaving a tip at a restaurant, the hairdressers, any interaction with a stranger, whatever, what did you do to show love? I can be blunt and ask this hard question because I have been that Christian before. My aha moment happened as I walked the streets of Budapest. A crippled homeless man sat on the corner with a cup reaching out for charity. I walked past. Stopped. Turned around put a track in his cup told him to have a good day and carried on. Instantly I was guilty. I did the deed but had no love, turning life changing words into proof that Jesus wasn't worth his time. That has forever changed me.
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike you Christ."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
If I speak with the tongues of man and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:1