I consider myself relatively easy to get along with—unless you live with me, that is. (Yes, pity the Rays, who were our roommates in Damascus.) So when I meet someone I don’t get along with, it’s kind of a big deal. I think about it a lot. It worries me. It challenges me. It makes me think harder about what it means to be Christian. So really, it’s pretty good for me.
One of our acquaintances in Damascus was particularly good for me in this regard. He called one day, and I was the one who answered the phone. I was sick and could muster only a weak hello, but that was all it took to get ole’ Brother C to start jabbering. Brother C boasted that he could jabber like this in nine languages. This day’s jabbering went like this:
“Oh, good, Shannon, I can tell you’re healthy and happy today! I have a sort of mental telepathy, so I can tell by the voice how someone is feeling.” I nodded into the telephone receiver—that was the only encouragement he needed to continue.
Don’t get me wrong—I often do like jabberers. Some of my favorite people are jabberers. I just have a hard time when they talk only of themselves. Or when I get the feeling they’re jabbering down at me. Brother C. had both tendencies.
Just a few weeks before I fell ill, we had gathered with some friends one Friday afternoon, and Brother C. was there jabbering away with another man. The day was warm, and I had—after much struggle—finally gotten my baby to fall asleep in my arms. I looked up in surprise when Brother C. suddenly stopped talking. Looking at me, he said, “Uh, Shannon, water?”
I stared at him uncomprehendingly. “What about water, Brother C?”
Attempting to assist my understanding, he made a drinking motion with his hand and said, “I am thirsty!”
In my mind, I was like, “What the crap? You’re thirsty? Do you not see the sleeping baby in my arms? You’re the one who should be getting water for me! How ‘bout I show you what a woman like me can do?”
Fortunately, while I was having this passive-aggressive mental throw-down, a sweet elderly woman in the group was telepathically reading me, and she sprang to her feet and fetched Brother C some water. That woman was a Christian.