When I was in Waco I often had people share their sad stories with me and ask for cash at the door of my second floor apartment. I didn’t like the pushy men who made me feel unsafe and had to learn to be rather forthright about them leaving and keeping my screen-door locked. I was a time-poor, cash-poor grad student who didn’t have time to cook, let alone have any money on me. I felt bad for the women whose eyes glistened if all i had to give were some sliver coins and some food. I felt so helpless when faced with a woman with children around her ankles who had tears of thankfulness at whatever i could give with directions to those who might be able to offer further food and housing. It was the price/gift of living right off the interstate.
I collected for Salvation Army Red Door appeal all through highschool. Am I just rationalising when I say that an organisation with a good track record holds a one day once a year doorknocking appeal and i’m okay with that. I was always happy when those doorknockers came around…mainly I think that was because I was expecting them.
Why do I feel like this is any different?
Nonetheless, I feel unsettled about having politely told a clean cut gentleman wearing a multi-coloured vest that I’m not interested in hearing more about the organisation he’s collecting for (which I hadn’t heard of) nor did I have an answer for whether they were doing a good job. I don’t like feeling manipulated into either stating plainly that I have a selection of charities which I have commitments toward (which I do) or after saying, “I’m sorry, the only reason I’m home from work today is that I’m unwell” and then having to be more persistent when asked, “well, should I come back later” and feeling terribly mean in saying “No, i’d prefer if you didn’t”. I don’t like it because I feel like my home, my cottage-by-the-sea, is being invaded.
I don’t think I like the sense that i’m being manipulated. I feel the same way whether it’s a doorknocker for charity or a salesman trying to get me to switch telephone or electrity – the last two happen at least once a month.
Maybe it’s that I’m not feeling 100% and so I’m a little grumpy.
Maybe it’s a different set of expectations.
Is this how people feel about door-to-door evangelists or even street evangelism?
Have I ever made anyone feel unsettled? uncomfortable? unsafe?
Even when talking about the best news of all?
Do they feel like I want something from them, as if I’m asking for them to let a stranger in the house?
Do I treat people with the same disdain that some of these collectors and salesmen seem to treat me?
I think I’d much rather live my life faithful in the little things sharing as I’d bidden so that when I knock on that door, it shall be opened to me as a friend, and not as an unbidden stranger. I hope too, by then, that the God I share in my actions and words is also not a strange God about whom blunt questions are replaced by those evidencing a real relationship – the practical as much as the abstract; for the fact finding and the “blind ask” has long been replaced by real relationship and the ups and downs of life alongside one another.