I’ve never had to question how my faith and belief comes off to others. I feel comfortable in what I believe and how I live my life accordingly. I don’t spend much time worrying about whether others have an opinion on how/where I commune with G-d, how I pray, the ways in which my intuition and spirituality are sprinkled in. It’s all mine, and defined by my being, and I think radiates from my core. I don’t hide it.
But today I had an interaction that shook me to my core. Literally dumbfounded me in a way that hasn’t happened since I met our cousin Luann for the first time. A friend was sharing with me that their father is having open heart surgery on Monday. Me being me, I asked what time. “I don’t know,” they said “Monday morning?” And I asked that if they find out the specific time for them to let me know so I could be in intentional prayer for their father—something I try and do in cases like these for my nearest and dearest. And their response floored me. “Ha! But why? You don’t believe in God!” My jaw dropped. “Excuse me; what? Come again?” “Shannon…” “um, I don’t believe in God? WHAT would have ever given you that impression?” “Because you don’t. You don’t believe in God”. And that’s where it was left. Because they hoped off the phone for another call and I was left in the wake of someone who, for whatever reason, felt they knew something about my being that is utterly not true.
From a stranger on the street, perhaps that response would have felt justified. From someone who knows me at all it seemed like they’d just ignored who I am. I’ve had faith conversations with this person. I’ve told them I’m praying for them. I’ve shared a book of blessings with them for their grief (written by on of my favorite Methodist minister poets). I’ve talked to them about my former position as a youth minister. I’ve shared about getting back into the habit of attending church. I’ve shared intimate details about my struggles with organized religion and various calls God has had in my life.
Where then did I give the indication I didn’t believe in God? I’m sorry, but who exactly do you think I am?
Trying not to take it to heart. Remembering that people maybe don’t always know us as deeply as they believe they do—or maybe they don’t know us as well are we previously thought they did. I still feel confident in myself and my beliefs. But boy if that didn’t throw me for a loop.