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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ichthys

I must confess, I'm sometimes a judgmental snob. The guys I work with are lucky they don't care what I think, otherwise they'd never be able to endure my eye-rolling at the massive amounts of soda they consume. I feel justified in judging here: sugar-sweetened beverages are an incorrigible waste of caloric intake. There's not much else I judge "nonbelievers" on, because if they haven't seen the light, how can they hate the darkness? But Christians, I feel like they should know better. And this has been a huge area of sin in my life, so let me just confess . . . I judge Christians who have fish on their cars.

I wanted to be Catholic for a while. Especially when I was doing more pro-life advocacy stuff, that's where I saw a lot of Catholics walking the talk. Christians who are big on grace find ways to live apathetically, but all the Catholics I met put great stock in the power of action. Also, Portsmouth Abbey is beautiful and I can't say being a nun doesn't sound attractive at this phase in my life.

But all that changed when I was driving to church one day. There's a huge Catholic church between my house and my church, and their parking lot is always packed. There are cars on both sides of the road, on both corners. And on this fateful morning, as I was driving by, minding my own business, a car with a fish on their bumper pulled out of this Catholic church and cut me off. I ceased wanting to be a Catholic that day. They were not as perfect as I hoped they could be.

Do not presume me to be hypocritical. I used this ridiculous non-story to make a point. I cut people off sometimes. I'm not good at depth perception or acting quickly or making left-hand turns. I'm a woman, doesn't that mean I'm genetically predisposed to being a terrible driver? But guys, seriously, I don't have a fish on my car. And I exercise extreme caution pulling in and out of my church's parking lot. Because I know the community's watching. And I don't want to be that jerk driver who selfishly asserts herself on the road while representing Jesus to the other drivers around. I know I can't live up to that. 

(Parenthetically, this is why I also never applied the decal my school sent me when I was accepted. The members of the rural community surround my school are not super fond of URI and their reckless boozing ways. I don't want my poor driving skills to make the neighbors even more hostile. If such a thing were even possible.)

I do a lot of driving. Usually around 80 miles a day, five days a week. And almost every day I see someone with a fish on their car. You know what? The driver of that car is usually talking on their cell phone, or pulled out too far into the intersection, or tailgating someone, or running a red light, or driving slowly in the passing lane, or some other such obnoxious and rude driving activity. Of course, this is Rhode Island. This driving behavior is not abnormal or out of the ordinary. But Christians are supposed to be different. Our love for Jesus is supposed to make us responsible and courteous drivers. 

Whenever people flash me the finger for driving too slowly or turning too quickly I thank heavens I don't have a fish on my car. Better they blame me than blame me and Jesus.

A caveat thought here: I know someone who works with a professing Christian who is universally disliked by everyone else in the department. It makes me wonder about testimony, and how to find a balance between living a genuine life and being a good example of the difference Jesus makes. Christians aren't perfect. If anything, we're more sick than most. How do we bring glory to His name without also sullying it? How vocal ought we to be?

3 comments:

Caitriona aka Catherine said...

Hayley!!!!
Picture this: we are having coffee together (do you even drink coffee?), you are telling me this instead of writing it and I am roaring with laughter! I so identify with you and your judging the Christians with the fish. I know that I drive like a Bostonian and I would not put a fish on my car. This post is SO 409! Of course the Catholic church parking lot is full, this is New England, but all the fish bumper stickers, what is up with that? Are there really that many Christians in RI? I am really surprised. Just have to say that your post was a bright spot here at the end of my day. I am SO grateful for you and your writing blog posts! Sometimes I am proud of you too. Most of the time, I just sit here and admire your gut wrenching honesty. Gotta go to bed.
Love,
CM

Nicole said...

That is is the exact same reason I don't have a fish on my car. As for the witness thing at work, I have the same issue! This coworker is very much disliked by pretty much everyone and I don't quite know how to counteract that. Let me know if you get any brilliant insight. :)

Simply me said...

Wow, you are a very talented writer! :)