We’ve all been there. The Walmart check-out line. In my most recent visit to WallyWorld, I was in line to check out with my few items as the customer in front of me (with about a million-billion items) was finishing up. The great thing about Walmart is that there’s always interesting things (people really) to look at while you wait.
As I stepped up to the “bag my stuff and let me pay” position, the cashier mumbled something that I’m pretty sure was intentionally loud enough to illicit a response. She said, “Well that was an awkward conversation.”
She went on to tell me about the conversation she had just had; one in which she felt judged by someone identifying themselves as a Christian.
I know. Shocking, right?
She then said, “Religion makes people feel awkward.” I replied, “For most people, I think that’s true.” She then told me about a comment she had received earlier about the earrings she was wearing. They were small skulls dangling from her ear lobes. I saw them and thought, “Yep, those are skulls…big deal.”
The cashier went on to tell me that she was agnostic. An agnostic is someone who doesn’t believe that spiritual truths can be known. They don’t believe that the existence of a higher power can be proven or dis-proven. It’s a “limbo”, a “jury’s still out”, a “hanging chad” kind of worldview. It’s euphoric in its inconclusiveness. And for better or for worse, its right where this young lady had landed.
I believe that respect is the cornerstone of talking with someone of a different worldview. I think Christians would do well to listen more and talk less. I believe that this young woman deserved to be heard, not merely spoken to and definitely not spoken at. So, that’s what I did. In my brief time standing there as she talked and swiped my items over the “beepy” thingy, I simply listened to her. And when she was done I told her that I actually teach religion, and I find it fascinating and know a bit about a variety of religions/worldviews. Throw rocks at me if you want, but I did NOT want to say “I’m a Christian too.” She had just had an interaction with Little Miss Earring Critic over there and I didn’t want to be painted with the same brush.
What would you have done in my situation? How would you have responded to her? What would you have said/not said? Whatever your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.