So I am at the gym this morning and in a complete morning stare… you know the stare… the stare that lasts forever and everything else around you doesn’t matter. I was in one of those, staring at the news, and half listening to my iPod, and a story about our President’s stimulus package comes on. I’m not sure why I did what I did next but I just blurted out, “That’s retarded!” Well all political views aside right now… I usually don’t voice any type of opinion in public like that and the one time I do this big guy working out next to me, let’s call him ‘Muscles’, asks, “What’s retarded?” … Oh great… here we go.
Well I began to explain myself and that conversation led to another conversation which led to another conversation which resulted in me finding out Muscles is an atheist. It was a really weird conversation first thing in the morning and one I was completely caught off guard with.
The thing that I noticed most is how completely awkward I felt. I was listening to what he was saying and then thinking of a way to fire back to prove my point but halfway through I realized that I am not what I am trying to defend. What I mean is, just because he did not agree with what I believed does not mean that I have to defend myself. He wasn’t disagreeing with me personally. He just didn’t like what I stood for. So here I was “in a war within a war.” I was defending what I believed against Muscles but also battling within… the pride of self-preservation vs. the second command of Jesus… love your neighbor as yourself.
So within this split second I changed my demeanor, shut my mouth, and just listened to Muscles. He then walked away did a couple more sets and came back over to explain why he didn’t believe in God. He went on to tell me that he had a bad experience at church when he was a kid so he went his own way and did a lot of reading and felt like God didn’t make sense (he’s right in a way! Isaiah 55:8) I spoke as well as I could to that issue but ultimately I didn’t want to ruin my chances to speak into his life in the future so I just mainly listened. We then talked about our daughters, Disneyworld, and supplements. I just decided that I have nothing to defend and truly listened to what Muscles had to say. The thing is, I could have totally screwed this up by being a loudmouth arrogant jerk and defending my point but I venture to say it would have built a wall instead of a bridge.
Hopefully, because I dropped my defense and opened my ears, God will give me another opportunity to SHOW the love of Christ to Muscles again by just listening.
ha ha but who knows maybe he’s blogging about the right-wing, preacher, nutjob he ran into at the gym this morning!
Do you feel like you have to defend yourself?
Dude I totally had an experience like that as well. I work with a few atheists and have had a discussion on Christianity with one of them. So wanted to defend myself and what I believed in but totally felt that God was telling me basically he wasn’t ready yet. That I needed to just listen and not be judgmental. At that moment God reminded me that four years ago I was an atheist and how I reacted to those who preached to me and judged me on my lifestyle. (It’s funny how God can you remind you of so much in one moment) Anyways, since then that guy totally sees me differently and I love it! I totally believe that he sees Jesus in a new light. Sorry I wrote a little mini blog. So I guess all I’m saying is that I can relate to your conversation with muscles. lol muscles!
Angela, nice job… it is pretty amazing those quick reminders God does.
I am an atheist, just sort of came across your post when tag surfing.
My best friend is very religious. Southern Baptist of all choices :). Despite our different religious beliefs, we are best friends and would go to any lengths to help the other. She used to try to convert me- at one point I was “on the fence”. I decided she had some valid points and decided to read the bible which was my undoing. Had I not read the bible, I might still be undecided. Since reading, I’ve rejected it and have been quite happy. I have also given up trying to convert her ;).
It seems that people think athiests are without morals, tatoo’d, peirced, and crazy. I’m none of the above (unless I make it to 100, then I’m getting a tatoo). Most people assume I’m Catholic because of my views.
As an athiest in the United States I feel quite like a minority. It’s not “easy” being an athiest. Not that I’m tempted to believe, not in that way, but in the way that most people who find that out try to tell you that you’ll go to hell or try to point out numerous ways that I’m wrong about what I believe. I don’t typically bring it up because people do get quite upset about it and I never understand that.
I don’t get upset if people are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or even voodoo practitioners. But yet they get upset that I don’t believe.
I think your attitude toward the conversation was probably something very rare for an athiest to experience. Myself, I very rarely come across people who accept me the way I accept them. I rarely tell people I’m an athiest IRL unless asked. In fact a friend I once had said after about a year of knowing her that she would not be friends with an athiest. I had not brought up my religious veiws prior to that but felt she should know that I was an athiest so she could decide if our friendship would overcome that. It didn’t.
Anyway, just saying Thanks :). Even if you never convert muscles, you might end up with a great friend.
@forthelifeofme what a great comment! Thanks for reading… I just want to love people and if they build a relationship with God through Jesus, that’s awesome. But for me, (and should be for all Christians) it’s about loving God and loving people. It’s impossible to say you love God and not love people. Thanks for sharing.
Yesterday you showed everyone that reads this what Oasis is all about,no judging others but loving them,& just being a friend sometimes means more than anything caused you listen, Ashley thanks for sharing
You did well, it is hard when pride gets in the way. I pray That got opens the door for you to minister to him one day. Or opens it for some one else to.