Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Made in God's Image and Loved

I always read the obituaries. If I read the newspaper, that's what I read. My Grandpa would say he reads them to make sure his name's not there. I can't remember the last time I saw someone listed in the obituaries that I knew, but today I did. It made me sad. Her name was Kim Stutzman. She was 53. I knew her from my front door. You see, she was my Jehovah's Witness. I was nice to her, and she came back. I didn't really want her to, but she did. I thought, why would I send away a perfectly nice person who comes to me and wants to talk about God? I can't imagine Jesus pretending he wasn't home. So, I let her in.

Kim was a professional J.W. She'd been schooled with the best and was very cautious to protect herself from any non-Watchtower material. I insisted on using my Bible when we met, but, of course, she'd been prepped for that one and directed me to specific verses that were the same in her Bible. So we met under the auspices that we would discuss God, but really we were both trying to convert the other. My friend, Betty, told me she's won two J.W.s over to Christianity, and now they won't send any more over to her house. Perhaps I thought I could do the same. As if I had any power in this issue at all. Though I'd been raised a Christian and taught how to share my faith, even had a few lessons on dealing with cults from my Christian College, I still was in way over my head. She'd been educated almost daily by the Watch Tower Society at her local Kingdom Hall for over 30 years. If we were taking bets on who'd win our debates, I'd advise you to place your money on her.

She was good. Even if I did get a point in here or there, I lost all credibility by becoming consumed with being "right" or "winning". I did research between our meetings and printed out good articles that used only Watch Tower quotes to refute itself. I handed them to her at the end of one of our meetings and for one moment I was real with her, not out to conquer. I told her how concerned I was for her. "Just as much as you're concerned for me, I'm concerned for YOU." I asked her to please read the article and tore off the last page that was not Watch Tower quotes, when she explained she could not read anything that was not Watch Tower or from her Bible. She did read it, and was happy to report she could not see any problems with what she read. Through such different eyes we see.

Soon she got sick and had two nice ladies from the Hall come by and tell me she wouldn't be able to visit me for a while. They asked if they could come over and I said, "Sure!". I made tea and we had a tea party. Having learned from Kim what to expect and what didn't work, I tried a new approach. I just listened. I laughed with them. I was real with them. When they told me how many hours a week they had to be at the Hall, I genuinely said, "Wow! That's a lot of time! You guys sure have to do a lot!" I thought for a moment I could see some wheels turning. I loved them the best I could in an hour or so. I sent them with a note for Kim, wishing her well. They never came back.

I wish I sent more notes to Kim, not that I knew her husband's name to find her in the phone book, but I could have asked the other J.W. ladies when I ran into them around town. They remembered me as the lady who made tea for them. From her obituary, I learned that Kim has two daughters, wasn't always a J.W. and was a very good house keeper. I'm not surprised, she seemed like one of those super women who seem to have it all together all the time. I write about her so others may remember that those people who come to their door are still people...people wanting to talk about God no less. It literally could be a matter of life or death.


Deanne said...

Wow. I'm amazed (and convicted)! I'm in the middle of my own interesting story....I've been emailing with a mormon friend and posing my questions to her. I feel so inadequate, but I suppose that is the way I should feel (opposed to being confident in myself - I have to take the time to really think about my responses and searching scripture). It's an interesting ride, that's for sure! You're right about not having an attitude of 'winning'...unless its the winning of the persons soul.

Chris said...

Thanks for the reminder. I love your attitude and willingness to accept the challenge of loving these ladies instead of ignoring them.