I’m standing at my front door step talking with a visiting friend, when suddenly they appear.
Shapes move through the coconut fronds, revealing two figures walking down the driveway towards us. It takes an effort to access my front door from the road. These two strangers have to be determined. I already know their mission. I’ve gone through this before.
I’m dedicated to being kind, even though I am annoyed at the invasion. Coupled with my irritation at what seems like a lack of respect of privacy, is the conditioning I have from growing up in rural land. Where ‘no trespassing’ signs were posted clearly and those that ignored them did so at their own risk.
The man and woman reach us at the doorstep. They hand me their church’s invitation. A fair-complexioned Jesus sits in the illustration surrounded by lime green.
I’m ready with my kind but firm request.
“I appreciate what you’re doing but I don’t want people coming to my house that I don’t know. I’ve actually left a message at the church with my address requesting that no one come by.”
They are quiet and nodding. I continue.
“There have been times when two men have suddenly appeared at my doorstep – I don’t know them – and I’m home alone. It just doesn’t feel comfortable. I don’t want stranger’s coming by my house. So can you please tell the church to make a note not to come to this address?”
Their reaction seems slightly surprised. Which is odd to me as I’m sure they’ve encountered resistance much more severe than mine. But she pulls a pen out of her purse and then fumbles for paper to write on. I offer her my lime-colored brochure.
“You can keep that. You may still want to come to the service.”
I hang on to the paper and think about my growing recycling pile.
After writing down my address she says, “Now when we receive a request not to come by, we will make a note and won’t come to the house for about a year. And then after that time, we’ll have someone come back to see if you may have changed your mind.”
“Actually, I would like my request today to be honored indefinitely. I don’t want anyone to come back in a year.”
There is a bit of awkward shuffling, nodding. I thank them for understanding and wish them a nice rest of their day.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the story of Christ and the unconditional love and forgiveness associated. I find that thread absolutely inspiring (why, I could even employ those teachings in this very moment I am describing). I can also understand when someone is so touched, that they want to share this good feeling with others.
What I don’t understand, and what I really don’t appreciate, is the way in which some people try to share it. How can a message of love feel so forceful and filled with disrespect? (I won’t even go into the history books on this point).
Sometimes we humans disrespect each other out of ignorance and it takes the other person to set us straight on what is needed. But what puzzles me about these neighborhood walkers is that even when a person says ‘no thank you’, they don’t seem to want to accept that. There is still a push, which feels disrespectful, and frankly, seems to counter the message they are trying to impart.
Now, if I want to take the high road, which, yes, I aspire to do, then I could see this front-step exchange as a gift. An opportunity presented (from God perhaps!) to state my feelings and my needs clearly. Not from a place of anger or fear, but from strength. Simple, pure and true.
So, as the man and woman wandered back up the driveway, my friend looked over at me.
“You were so nice! That was amazing. I can’t believe how clear you were.”
I laughed. “Yes, well, I was just wanting to be honest. I’m glad you were here to see it. I had a witness.”
She smiles wide. “Yeah, you had three!”