There was a choice yesterday- to open my door to the Jehovah’s witnesses going door to door in our new neighborhood, or hide in the hallway that I had just entered and wait for them to leave.
sadly, the latter choice seems to be my standard reaction when things like this ‘disrupt’ my day, and i find myself stewing in resentment that uninvited guests have the audacity to bother me when i’m in the middle of piles of laundry and bathing stinky dogs.
however, i felt like i should not hide (and they also seemed to be lingering longer than most) so I decided to put down the laundry basket and open the front door, mentally armed with my standby reasons why i wasn’t in need of the pamphlets they were most likely armed with so I could cut their spiel shot and return to my schedule.
on the short walk from the hallway (aka my refuge) to the door, i had a flashback of a scenario just over a year before that halted my plan.
we have just moved about six or so weeks ago into the condominium right next to my 93 year old grandfather and his 81 year old wife. we share one wall between us, and a large quantity of DNA. last year around this time, my grandpa had offered to ‘hire’ me out to help plan his wife’s 80th birthday party- catered with mexican food and a surprise barbershop quartet to serenade his sweetheart. one afternoon, i had popped by to run the menu past them when we were interrupted by the doorbell, only to find the Jehovah’s witnesses armed and ready to share the gospel with whoever answered the knock.
my grandfather’s wife immediately (but in a nice tone) assured them that her soul was safe in the lutheran congregation a few towns away, and that she had been a member there for thirty some odd years. in my recollection, they didn’t have the chance to utter a word before she shut the door.
i remembered thinking many things, the first among them being why would you even bother opening the door in the first place if you were not going to let them speak? Secondly, the canned answer about having her soul safe because she was simply a member of a church congregation made me feel so sad that thirty years in, this sentence pretty much summed up the extent of her faith journey. that sitting in the pew and taking communion every sunday was the simple answer to soul saving. it reminded me of the great quote by mohammad ali which states, “if a man thinks the same way he did when he was 20, at 50 then he’s wasted 30 years of his life.”
i snapped back into the present as i turned the door handle, now determined to break this cycle and just be open to whatever i might be walking into.
and it was such a beautiful experience.
first of all, there were two men, one very small in stature and the other quite large and barrel chested, both of hispanic origin. the slight one smiled warmly and then opened his mouth to utter a few forced sentences through a very prominent speech impediment. i could barely make out his words through the accent, the stuttering, and his slur, but i kept hearing the word ‘comfort’ being presented again and again as he gingerly offered me a handout about God’s loving presence and all he has to offer us hurting humans.
that was all.
maybe thirty seconds.
nobody tried to convince me of my soul needing saving, or of joining their church. they didn’t ask me if i was a believer in jesus or if i attended weekly services. it was just a most humble messenger bringing comfort and hope to all who might be so blessed and lucky to open their front door. his smile was priceless, his eyes it up when he spoke of god, and intentions were beautiful. the guts it must take for a man without the gift of eloquent speech to hit the road with pure conviction backing him is priceless.
it struck me all day.
so who cares that i don’t have the same beliefs as these lovely men? it didn’t matter if one of our parties were ‘off’ in our thinking or processing, and it sure as hell seemed very very small as to who was ‘right’ and who was going to possibly burn in hell for eternity for making a wrong choice. it all felt very silly- all of us faith folks almost being pitted against each other, so afraid of one another that we come up with ways to barricade ourselves in hallways.
by no means do i have all of the answers, or maybe even any at all for that matter! my faith journey has evolved beyond typical sunday morning services, and so has the god who has exposed himself to me along the path in ways more personal and extraordinary than i thought possible. that is the kind of god i choose. and my god seems to choose love over fear, kindness over hatred, blessings on those who are different than us. i choose opening doors without having words to defend our hearts that are tremble with the fear of being wrong.
opening that door also was symbolic of me breaking some generational garbage that needs to be dealt with. though the dna runs strong through a family line, i am finding patterns and systems that i am viewing as unhealthy for my life moving forward, so taking steps in breaking free from the old mold is what i am aware of, and gladly accepting the invitations when I see them arise.
oh how glad i am that i opened that door! i found nothing but love and peace, and if it took a messenger straight from god to my front door, then i thank those lovely angels on my doorstep.
the name of their pamphlet-the watchtower- serves as a reminder for me to be vigilant in my thought patterns and also creates awareness in asking myself how i am serving the world and to be watchful all along the watchtower for how to better meet the needs of others who are searching as well.