Recently I started an on-going series called Life in Boystown, which will chronicle some of the unique moments of what it means for me to live where I do. Here is the second installment:
The other day I was riding on the bus down the main strip of Boystown and was reading Mother Teresa’s book Come Be My Light (which seems to be 60% off right now on Amazon!). Anyway, the guy sitting next to me kept leaning over, obviously shifting his head between the book’s cover and myself. Back and forth – the book’s cover and myself; the book’s cover and myself.
So I stopped reading, put the book down, looked at him, smiled and said hi. He immediately lit up with a huge grin and pointed at the book. The conversation went as followed:
Me: Hey! How are you?
Man: Great! I see you’re reading that book by Mother Teresa. Do you like it?
[At this point I’m thinking he’s a Christian, big church going guy, because on the public transportation system in Chicago there seems to be some strange sense of duty when Christians see other Christians reading the Bible or Christian books while riding, to say hi and start a conversation. There always seems to be some sort of unspoken rule where one of the people have to make eye contact and then say hi and talk about the Christian literature that is being read—like we’re a secret society or something. I try to avoid these situations as much as I can. I just want to read, not talk.]
Me: Yeah, it’s pretty intense. I never knew she felt so alone and far from God.
[The man starts to cry out of nowhere. This was my give-away that he was not one of those Christian-obligation-to-talk-type-people.]
Man: Yes. Yes. You see, I’m gay. And ever since I came out about 15 years ago (he seemed to be around my age) I was told by my family that I was far from God. That God wouldn’t ever listen to me. That I was destined to be alone, without God by my side, my whole life. So I left God far, far behind.
[At this point I put my arm around him and just sat there. My stop came and went and I just kept sitting there with him because something told me words wouldn’t do too much justice at this point.]
Man: But then you know what?
Man: A friend of mine, who is also gay, gave me that book and said I should read it because it gave him a whole new perspective that someone who was so close to God still felt so far from God. I read it and it changed my life because for the first time in 15 years I now know that even the best Christians can feel far from God. Reading that book was the most authentic thing I’ve ever heard from a person who believes in God. And to imagine Mother Teresa felt her dark night of the soul for 50 years and still kept doing what she did!? Sure made me examine my life and bitterness too. For the very first time in my life I feel like I have any hope that God loves me.
Me: God does love you. I believe that. And I believe that God listens to you when you talk to God; even though we might not feel like it. I know that to be true, because there are certain times when I feel like I pray and it just goes into thin air. But I guess I’m learning that that’s the point of faith and faithfulness. Anyone can be faithful when they feel God hears every word they pray.
[The man smiled at this point, and chuckled a little bit.]
Man: You know the funny thing is that I would have never believed you in what you just said until I read that book. I would have thought you were crazy, but now I feel like I’m part of that craziness too.
[The man pulled the string on the bus to let the driver know he was getting off at the next stop. He gave me a big hug…]
Man: Thanks for listening and letting me cry some. I’m super embarrassed. But the good thing is, you don’t know me and I’ll probably never see you again, so that makes me feel better.
Me: Well, [as I break out in a big smile because I thought what he just said was pretty funny] my name is Andrew. Great to meet you. I’ll also pray that you believe God hears you. And thanks for sharing. It meant a lot to me. Love you brother.
[With his lip quivering a little…]
Man: Brother? Thank you. Love you too brother.
[And with that he got off the bus, turned a little and waved to me as the bus pulled away.]
Life in Boystown.