So…this weekend, I decided to do something fun with my son. The Boy is wanting more toys, and he certainly has as many toys as he needs – really, it’s an embarrassment of toy-riches! We’ve been talking about sharing with others, and how when we’re fortunate enough to have all we need, we need to bless others.
So after talking it over, he wanted to have a yard sale – he picked out toys he likes but hardly plays with, toys he likes and plays with some but “others might really enjoy this, too!”, toys that he thought others would like. We priced them low (“should I ask $50 or 50 cents for this, Mom?”), had a bucket of freebies, and made it our policy that whatever someone offered us, we would take – since it was more important to get rid of our excess and bless others than it was to get our asking price. (Yes, that meant that I said nothing when the woman stood in front of me and rolled up a piece of clothing I was selling for 10 cents and shoved it into a bag, while looking me in the eyes – I mean, if you have to steal something I’m valuing at 10 cents, you *obviously* either really need it or really have problems, so I’m not going to say anything! :P)
I tried having a yard sale once before in this little town, and it was a complete and utter flop – I literally couldn’t *give* stuff away. Wrong time, wrong day, wrong karma…I dunno. But I didn’t want a repeat of that! So when I saw the sign for the town yard sale, it seemed like serendipitous timing. I called and signed us up for it, called a few friends to see if anyone wanted to sell anything at our table (no go…apparently I’m the only one who has way too much clutter in my life!), and proceeded to declutter with a vengeance. My friend Amy came over and worked her organizing magic, and The Boy wound up with lots of stuff to sell. We got up at 6am today, and my long-suffering husband lugged stuff into the arena, helped us set up, ran after change, and generally made sure we had everything we needed.
I’ll be honest, I don’t get out much in this town. I go to Zumba once a week, and love it. Every now and then I walk up to the post office, or to the little grocery store, but even all these years into living here, there’s not much intermingling. I’ve lived in small towns before, and I know how much easier it is to make friends in a city…in tiny towns, everyone knows both far too much and far too little about everyone else. Add in the fact that we don’t attend church here, on top of that, we homeschool, and given my work schedule and The Boy’s allergies, he’s not into summer sports – there just aren’t many opportunities for interaction with locals. Plus, about half the town attends the really big “church”, so yeah.
Anyone who’s ever been the new person in a town where conversations go like “OMG, can you believe so and so is with so and so? You know, such and such’s son did this. Yeah, he lives out by where that tree was 15 years ago, you remember, he used to drive this truck? That’s right, they are related to so and so’s grandpa.” …. then, you can probably relate to me 😉 I’m “from away”. No matter how long I live in this town, I’ll always be “not from here”.
Frustrating? Absolutely – I love visiting with friends, I enjoy talking with people. I’ve accepted the fact that most of my social life will be conducted far away from here – I’ve got a great group of knitty-friends that I get to see every week, homeschool friends, friends I can meet for coffee and chat….just not here in town. Drive an hour in almost any direction, and yes, I actually have friends who make me feel semi-normal. The very few friends I have in this town…both of them!…I cherish dearly. I’m almost pathetically grateful for their friendship, because honestly, years of being a stranger to everyone is really grating on me. It took me long enough to find them that I really, really value them! <3 (I knew there were fabulous people around here…and I was right. *mwah!* love you guys!)
But…I’m determined to give my son a chance to meet people, and I want to encourage him to be a good citizen when and as he can. (I’ve been looking for volunteer opportunities for him, but no one accepts children as volunteers!) So, we signed up for the yard sale.
It was going pretty well today – The Boy was learning all about working retail (let them browse. Go ahead and answer any questions they have, don’t overwhelm them, but smile and be friendly and let them know you want to help. Ask them if they need a bag. Yes, you may walk around the arena and offer free books and toys to the children walking in. Speak up when someone asks you a question, make sure they can hear you.)
A very kindly grandmother-to-9 stood there and chatted with him, and made a point of telling me that he was going to grow up into an amazing man – that he was smart, and friendly, and she was quite impressed by him. Almost everyone who walked by at least said hello, some people even bought stuff, so I was finally starting to relax and think that perhaps it wasn’t quite *so* bad to get out and about.
As things were winding down, The Boy and I went for a walk. We strolled past a table run by, as The Boy calls them, “people who go to that church with the pastor that says you can’t talk to anybody who doesn’t go their church and they are not very kind to us, Mama, I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t think that’s ok.”
The woman was sitting there working on some needlework, so I smiled and said “oh, how pretty! I didn’t realize you were stitching and selling these, that’s lovely work!”
She looked at me deadpan.
Was her response a socially appropriate “Thank you!” or a “yes, I enjoy stitching” or even a grunted acknowledgement of my compliment?
No, instead this woman looked me up and down and said “I see you’ve walked away from God!”
I decided to have a little fun with her and play dumb…so I asked “No, why would you say that?!”
Her: “Well, you aren’t going to church anywhere anymore!”
Me: “Oh no, I just don’t go to YOUR church anymore! We actually have a lovely church we attend.”
Her: “Where is THAT?!” ( >>> Note…this is what I mean by small towns. She’s obviously aware that our car doesn’t move during “church times”. I’m not sure *why* anyone bothers to notice, but whatever! If you have nothing else to do with your life but check where I’m going when, then do what makes you happy I guess :P)
Me: (Smiling cheerfully) “We attend a Messianic Nazarene congregation – as a matter of fact, I’m going home to Skype in as soon as we’re done here. My pastor – she’s the greatest! – has online church for those of us without a local church home. ”
Her: “Well, I see you’ve just completely walked away from God. You’ve abandoned so much of what you used to believe!”
Me: “I don’t know what you’d be talking about, I haven’t walked away from anything I’ve ever known to be true!”
Her: “Look at your dress code! That has OBVIOUSLY changed!”
Me: “Oh, that! Good thing that doesn’t keep me out of Heaven, then, isn’t it?!?”
And so it went.
Seriously…I’m not sure why she thought she had the right to question me (we’re obviously not friends!) and I’m truly baffled that she thought it was socially appropriate to accuse, belittle, and judge me *in the middle of a town event*.
My friends are proud of me though, because I didn’t swear, I didn’t tell her to go do something anatomically impossible, and I didn’t bring up all of the small-town-scandal-crud I know about her family. I smiled, I responded kindly, and (I hope) took a few minutes to show her how true Christians act.
And now I’m home, and I’m blogging – not behind her back, though, because this post is quite public 😉 My husband and I have been laughing ever since I told him…just the contrast of “lovely needlework, how nice!” and “GRRRR…I see you’ve WALKED AWAY from God!” I don’t know what she wanted to accomplish, but I’m fairly certain that she didn’t get her desired result.
Lest anyone think today was all bad, it really wasn’t. Three people from that church actually spoke to us in a friendly tone – one even bought a few toys for her grandchildren, and let her grandsons speak to The Boy. I made sure to point out to him that not absolutely everyone from that place was unfriendly, a lesson that was hard to drive home when he saw more walking by and snarling and turning their heads when I spoke.
Hopefully my son learned what I wanted him to learn today: It’s possible to be friendly to others, even when they are unfriendly to you. Not everyone in this town goes to ‘the church’. Many people in this town will be cordial and actually speak to you. And Jesus wants us to be kind to the ones who are unkind to us – practicing charity in the face of incredible rudeness is something He asks us to do.
Plus…he made $30 spending money for our vacation 😉 A big “thank you!” to everyone who bought from my eager-to-please little boy 🙂
For the curious among you…here’s how I looked today. This is what someone who has ‘walked away from God’ and ‘abandoned everything they used to believe’ and is ‘obviously not a Christian’ looks like.
By their rules, I do look like a heinous harlot, I’m sure. My hair is down, I’m wearing makeup and jewelry, I’m wearing bifurcated apparel, I’m not wearing hosiery, I have a pedicure, and you can see both my neckline AND my elbows.
When I look in the mirror?
I see a woman who is very, very, very grateful that
“…the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”