13 November 2009

In which I get freaked out by random men witnessing to me

I was on campus late tonight, working on a project that's due Thursday. So I walked over to my bus stop and started reading Northanger Abbey by the fountain. I had my headphones in and a young white guy walked up to me, and asked me if he could talk to me. A couple of people were around, so I didn't feel unsafe, so I said okay.

"This is going to sound weird, but I was praying earlier, and I felt led to come over here and talk to you. Is there anything you're struggling with that we can pray about together?"

Oh no! I thought. God told him I'm an atheist.

I've never been this kind of Christian, so I don't know what motivates one to approach strangers at night to pray with them. Maybe I looked miserable, I don't know. He was pretty attractive, so he probably wasn't hitting on me.

I just wanted to get back to my book, not tell him I was an atheist and get dragged into some theological debate, so I just smiled and said, "No, not really. Sorry."

Maybe he had atheist-radar, because his next question was, "I know this is a personal question, and I don't want to pry or anything, but do you believe in God?"

That is a personal question, dude. Also, maybe you forgot. We're strangers.

I said, "I don't really want to answer that question," but, of course, he knew what that meant. I outed myself anyway.

He seemed really nervous this whole conversation. He wouldn't keep eye contact the whole time, and he kept shifting his weight, taking his hands in and out of his pockets. Maybe that's why I didn't want to be rude; it was disarming.

"Well, I just want to let you know, that if you don't have an intimate relationship with God, you should seek him out. It's really...beautiful to have that kind of relationship with him."

"Okay. Thanks."

Then he walked away. It was surreal.


Anonymous said...

If you had said that you were a Christian, he would have entered into, "Have you fallen away? Are you living your best?"

Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt guilt guilt. The salespitch of the damned.

Roy said...

About what "motivates one to approach strangers at night to pray with them:" many American Christian (if I can make sweeping generalizations) find ourselves in an identity crisis stemming from wanting to follow Christ--telling people that Jesus is the Way, Truth and the Life--and not wanting to follow him. Claiming that a dead guy is not just God but also calling the shots in your life is really kind of messed up.

I'm not trying to be self-indulgently deprecating, but I'm trying to say that a lot of us have no idea what we're supposed to be doing as Christians. If we're going to be followers of Jesus, what the heck does that mean? So this guy, whose Christianity is probably compartmentalized into some internal "spirituality" that has no bearing in the real world (if he's like most Christians) knows that such compartmentalization is wrong and doesn't know how to "make it more real." So he decides he going to be a creeper and "witness" to a total stranger.

"Is there anything you're struggling with that we can pray about together:" a good question between two very intimate friends. Otherwise, just weird and wrong.

Courtney said...

"a good question between two very intimate friends. Otherwise, just weird and wrong."

Agreed. Frankly, I was a little pissed about the whole thing afterwords. I had two don't-talk-to-me signals going (I was reading a book and had my headphones in) and I was a woman being approached by a strange man in the dark, a man who clearly had few problems with asking me if I wanted to tell him my personal problems.

I understand that crisis--I used to be a Christian, after all, and I had serious problems with witnessing and missionary work then, as well, though I felt guilty about it. Now, I feel like witnessing is similar to hitting on strange women in public. In that situation, a man thinks that his right to talk to you trumps your right to be left alone. He may think he has good intentions (and, he's a nice guy, not a rapist!), but the object of his flirtation sure doesn't know what his intentions are, or how nice he is. Similarly, a witnessing individual may think that he has good intentions, and is a good sort of person, but the person to whom he's witnessing doesn't know either of those things, and can't find them out in a safe way. And anyone who isn't a moron knows that being Christian doesn't automatically make you a good person.

The moral of the story is, I should have been rude. I should have told that guy to piss off and made sure he walked away. I had a right not only to privacy, but to be left alone in a public place.