Wednesday, July 21, 2004

In over my head 2

     I called my pastor this morning about Thomas Thomason. Pastor Bill (as always, not his real name) could see me at 11. I arranged my lunch so that I could go in and see him. I got there a bit early. I was nervous and sick to my stomach, clutching my briefcase like it was a security blanket.
     We did a bit of small talk, and then he said he already knew what I was coming to talk about.
     I asked how.
     He told me that Roger (thank you, Roger, and I don't mean that) had called him last night and told him that I was upset. He went on to say that he couldn't discuss the matter since it involved private things between him and Thomason, but he could tell me a couple things.
     "First, I didn't ask Thomas to stop teaching," Pastor Bill said. "It was his decision. And second, he was already moving to the city. He's found a church up there, and he's just going to move his membership a bit early. He feels it's best for our church and best for him."
     He smiled. "I hope that makes you feel better. You need to trust your Christian brothers and not listen to gossip."
     I felt awkward and silly. "Well, I'm sorry I bothered you," I said. "I just didn't want him treated unfairly."
     "That reflects well on you," he said, rising. "Compassion is a wonderful thing." 
     I rose, and then I had a thought, and because my brain doesn't have a damper between it and my mouth, I said, "Did you hint?"
     "Did you hint that it would be better if he gave up the class and left?" I said.    
     "I'm sorry, but I can't discuss what we talked about," he said.
     "I'm not asking for details," I said. "I'm asking if you hinted. If you said that if the Lord was leading him to leave, you'd understand. Something like that."
     He had stopped smiling and was looking at me.
     "I can tell your mind is made up," he said. "Obviously you think I ran him off."
     "No, I'm just asking if you hinted," I said.
     "I'm sorry, but I think it would be better if we didn't talk about it," he said. "I can tell you're getting upset. I know I am. It's not pleasant to have my judgment questioned." 
     "I didn't realize that a minister was above being questioned," I said. "I'll remember in the future." I turned to leave, feeling sick and angry.
     "Why are you are so interested?" he asked. "Are you a friend ... of Thomas?"
     I honestly couldn't breathe for a moment. That 'friend' was so weighed with meaning, so full of implication. I don't think in my whole life, I've ever heard a word so heavy.
     For once my brain came through. "I barely know him," I said. "But I do know what's right and I know what's wrong. Apparently some people don't."
     I left.
     However, being me, I couldn't leave on a good exit line. I had forgot my briefcase so I had to go back in and get it, and then we talked for a few minutes, and he apologized and I apologized and then we ended up saying a short prayer together. Sometimes I just want to hit myself. Hard.
     Did I accomplish anything? Well, besides making the pastor mad? Not much.
     I always look at bad things and wonder what lesson I'm supposed to learn. And in this one, what did I learn?
     I have no idea. I won't blame God for this. It's not His fault that people choose to be mean-spirited and tiny, but I already know that.
     That a church makes mistakes? I knew that, too. Churches are made of people like me. Imperfect. Stupid sometimes. Mistakes are going to happen.
     That a gay person should keep his or her mouth shut in my town or pay for it? I knew that, too.
     Or do I just write this all off? Chalk one up for the bad guys and move on?
     Should I get off my soapbox and call it a night?
     I don't know.
     I just don't know.

Copyright 2004. All rights reserved, although I'd be surprised if anyone wanted to copy it anyway.