While shopping at Lowe’s this past week, I found the most beautiful rose bush. I instantly new where it would go in my yard. I wasn’t the only one who thought the flowers were pretty.
Or so I thought…Because, on my way to my car, another do-it-yourselfer stopped me in the parking lot and gushed over my newest purchase. She asked how much it cost and where it was located in the store. She commented on the perfect flowers and the dazzling whiteness of the petals. She loved this flower…Or so I thought.
After loading my purchases and putting my cart away, I turned to walk back to my car and the same woman came walking toward me, a book in her hand.
“Sir?” she approached quickly and with purpose, holding out the book for me to see.
“I keep a copy of this book in my car and wondered if you might like a copy?”
I took one look at the thin booklet and it’s title printed in bold letters across the front, “REVELATION”. She held it out to me as if it were a precious gift. And in that moment, I realized that the conversation about the flower had nothing to do with the flower. I felt manipulated and used.
“No thank you.” I said and without another word, I turned to my car.
Without even looking her direction, I started my car, backed out of my spot and drove away.
I’m sure she didn’t think anything of it. I know that people like her and millions others are used to having the door slammed in their collective faces. And yet, they keep at it.
But here is the thing: She took what I thought was an authentic moment of connection over something as wonderful as a white rose and turned it into a cheap method of proselytizing. She was more concerned about getting her foot into my emotional door than the actual beauty of the moment and the flower. But now, I truly believe she commented on the rose for no other reason than to pitch her belief system. And to be honest, if this is how it has to be done, this isn’t any belief that I want to be a part of.
As I drove home, and nearly every day since, I thought about that interaction. I’ve studied the scene over and over in my mind. I’ve re-played her statements. I’ve analyzed my response. And then I had to ask myself a very hard question: Do I do the same thing to people I meet?
After all, I’m an outgoing guy. I laugh in the lunch line with total strangers. I’ve become friendly with sanitation workers and lunch ladies that I see on a daily basis. I talk easily with co-workers and patients. But why? Do I have a hidden agenda? Do I, at some deeper level, do this little social dance as a means to get my foot in the door?
Please understand, I NEVER talk religion. It’s just not my thing. But is there another reason I engage others? Is there a hidden agenda? Will I want something in return some day?
How about you? Do you talk to people so you get to know them or so they can know more about your beliefs, your thoughts, your agenda, your TV shows, your kids, your aches, your pains? Have you ever had a conversation with someone without saying something like, “I know what you mean! Something like that happened to me just the other day! Let me tell you about it.”
What if we just listened to people? What if we complimented someone without expecting something in return? What if we had and entire conversation with someone and never once thought about our response, only their words and their true meaning?
That would be a breath of fresh air, wouldn’t it?