Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On Stage Without a Script - Act V


We were in bed, Susan reading her book and me, just laying with my hands behind my head and looking up at the ceiling.  I wanted to talk . . . to somebody. Susan had a “do not disturb” written all over her face.  I waited patiently.  With the click of her lamp I immediately seized the opportunity, rolling over and facing the back of her head.

ME: “Susan.  Can we talk for a minute?”

SUSAN: (in a moaning tone of voice) “I guess so but I was about to fall asleep.”

ME: “I feel totally confused. Tonight at the meeting, it was quite painful when Bill said, ‘Why don’t you move to France?’”

SUSAN: (with a brief chuckle) “Well, it was funny. Don’t take it personal.”

ME: “Everyone wants to be liked. I think I feel more that way than most. Yet, I think I’m one of the most un-liked people, especially at church, and I don’t know why.  Seriously, that was very painful for me, especially when everyone was laughing. I felt totally alienated.  But more than that, I feel confused.  What did I say to make me such a lightning bolt for such hostility?”

SUSAN: “I think you take things too seriously.”

ME: “But really, think about it. Do you, in your heart of hearts, believe that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were Christian wars? Do you really think that it is the church’s business to be involved with those wars?”

SUSAN: “I haven’t thought about it.”

ME: “That’s all I was trying to say. There are plenty of people for the wars, thinking they were a good thing, and quite a few opposed to them. But it shouldn’t be a Christian thing.  Do you really believe that 9 11 was caused because Muslims were trying to force us to become Muslims?”

SUSAN: “No.”

ME: “So when John said that was the reason for 9 11, everyone seemed to agree with him.  No one stood up for me. I noticed you pulling away and you laughed the hardest when Bill said I should move to France.”

SUSAN: “Oh please. Just go to sleep. I don’t know and I don’t care who started the war and for what reason.”  Then she sat up in the bed and looked at me, “I do know that Ted had a nephew killed in Iraq so I’m sure that much of his motivation comes from that tragic event.”

ME: “But Susan, I can understand his pain and the church should be there to share that pain.  The only thing I don’t understand is why the church is getting involved in a political situation and why absolutely no one questions it but me?  Why did people respond angrily at me as well?”

SUSAN: (now with her eyes closed and laying back on her pillow) “I don’t know.”

ME: (now I’m sitting up in bed) “I feel so confused as I look back over these last three weeks. I still have no idea why the pastor was avoiding me. All I wanted to do was to help with Sunday school. He is often preaching about people not stepping up to the plate to help. That’s all I wanted to do. So I’m confused. Did he not like the topic I chose?  Did he not like me leading it?  I’m just confused.”

SUSAN: “Give the man a break. Maybe he just forgot to meet with you. Don’t you ever forget appointments?”

ME: “Sure I do.  But the way it happened confuses me. Why did he hide in his garage when I drove by?  Why did he ignore three voice mails I left him?  That’s the part that confuses me and I don’t know how to interpret it. What does it mean?”

SUSAN: “I don’t know. Just let it go. You have to learn to forgive.”

ME: “I don’t think what troubles me is the problem with forgiving. I mean, if he said he was sorry I wouldn’t hesitate to forgive. But my issue is confusion.  I don’t know what I did wrong to make him mad and make him want to avoid me.  Help me to understand how people think.”

SUSAN: “You have to stop being so judgmental. Pastor John is a good man. I respect him a lot. You have to stop being so critical.”

ME: “Is that my problem?  Maybe it is. But to me it feels like confusion. I mean, pastor John is always preaching about faithfulness in the little things. But if he is literally hiding in his garage to avoid me . . . it seems so inconsistent. I’m not being judgmental . . . or at least I don’t think so. I’m just confused . . . damned confused. I couldn't imagine hiding in my garage, like a five year old, to avoid speaking to someone. And John often speaks about accountability.”  There was a moment of silence as I thought over the situation.  “Which brings me to the last issue.  When I said what I said to Ralph, I had no clue that I would create a scandal. I was just curious and you might say, practicing this notion of holding my brother accountable.”

SUSAN: (sitting up in bed again) “But don’t you see, you can’t just walk up to a man and accuse him of being unfaithful to his wife!  Of course you created a scandal and I, frankly, was very embarrassed about it.”

ME: (rubbing my face in exhaustion born of chronic puzzlement ) “ I didn’t accuse him of anything. I was thinking of myself and how I would have mixed motives, picking the prettiest woman in our church to co-lead a Sunday school class. Maybe I’m just perverted . . . but I have the hunch that I’m just more honest.”

SUSAN: “Don’t flatter yourself.  You seem anything but humble. You seem arrogant and judgmental.”

ME: “But that’s not how I meant it.  I mean, I look up to Ralph . . . or least I did. I’m sure overall he is a much better man than me.  But think about it. In our church there have been about four divorces in the last two years and I know of three that probably had affairs going on. I know that this is never spoken of. But I think I live in reality and it isn't absurd or judgmental to raise the question with  Ralph.”

SUSAN: “But it certainly looks like you were doing it in revenge for him getting the Sunday school class.”

ME: “If it was, it was on a deep subconscious level, because that thought was not on my radar when I brought it up.”

SUSAN: “Okay, I’ve got to get to work early so let’s go to sleep.”

ME: “Fine. If I can sleep.”

SUSAN: “You need to go with the flow and stop letting these things bother you.”

ME: “But I’m just confused. I can’t get my head around things, how people think and why I’m despised. What did I do wrong.”

SUSAN: “I agree, you’re not the most popular man at our church. You need to work on that. Figure out how to behave what you can say . . . and what you must never say. Now good night.” 

2 comments:

PRS & ALS said...

I like this. Keep it coming!

jmj said...

Really? I thought I was flogging a dead horse.