Another three issues relating to Christian testimony have come up in the last couple of weeks.
Firstly, that old issue about drinking alcohol again. I asked R and G (two guys from church) their thoughts and they both agreed with the comments I’d heard about people testing you to see if you’re really any different. G is my generation and says apart from toasts, he doesn’t drink in public at all, even though he, like me, does enjoy the taste, and even on NYE when he knew all his friends were drinking. R on the other hand had a fair bit of whisky that night! They both said C’s opinion about demonstrating self control is all well and good, but it’s an Australian (ie. foreign) point of view; but it’s up to me since I’m free to choose. I told them of course I’m free to decide, liberty in Christ etc, but I value their opinion as Ecuadorian Christians who know what other Ecuadorians would think. I’m still undecided, and I’m finding it’s an extremely tricky issue to navigate, because there is no one right answer or one right way to do things.
Secondly, there was an incident at a basketball game the other week. P is generally pretty passionate and animated when she plays, gets frustrated easily, and at the end of the match (her team lost) she lost it a bit, shoved a player from another team thrust the ball at her and stormed off. I was with M and G, and we all went a little cold seeing that. There was this awkward moment of silence before the hall was filled with noise again. We agreed it wasn’t cool what P did, and I said I’d talk to her later.
I wasn’t really wanting to speak to her that night, wanted to leave it till the morning, but circumstances did mean we ran into each other. The first thing she said to me was, “Did you see?” – a pretty good indication she knew it was not okay. I brought it up the next morning, explaining to her that it’s fine to be into the game but it wasn’t okay to react like that, whatever the other girl might have done, especially in front of such a huge crowd, and especially with her young children present. I said it’s important they learn the difference between passion and violence and it wasn’t clear from her behaviour; she said the boys being almost 9 and 10 know the difference and know it was just a game. She insisted that the other girl had been provoking her all night, and in the past too. I repeated that it was natural to feel what she felt, but that for her testimony as a Christian she needs to control the way she expresses that.
I guess with her I just wonder how much advice I can give her, considering I am younger than her by a fair bit in terms of age, although I have been in the faith longer. I felt like she brushed me off and didn’t pay attention at all, but I’m not sure if there’s some pride there, or just a guilt that made her reluctant to talk about it. Afterwards, I told M and G what had happened with P, and asked if M could say something, as she is older and maybe P would listen to her more. M said she would look for an opportune moment.
A few days later, G made the comment to me that he felt I shouldn’t have said anything to P, because she already knew she’d done the wrong thing so there wasn’t any good to be done. That had crossed my mind – I knew she knew it wasn’t okay – but I also felt it was important that she heard it from someone else as well, another perspective because with that much emotion it’s hard to get a good grasp of what it looked like from the outside. But maybe I was wrong?
Thirdly, I’ve been hanging out with G a lot lately, and people having been making insinuations. Neither of us really care, he knows people here are gossips and I personally think there really are worse things people could think than that the two of us are together. But a couple of things got me thinking.
This is precisely the problem that made J so careful around me in public, to the point where it hurt, or at least offended me. I feel if being seen walking from one part of town to the other together, or standing in the same group at a party having a conversation with each other gets people talking, that’s their problem and doesn’t reflect badly on us. If we had been dating, it wouldn’t have been bad testimony. (The only reason we’ve been able to figure out for his behaviour is that he was interested in another girl he knew he couldn’t date as a short-termer/she not being Christian, and didn’t want her to think he was with me).
With G, it’s a bit more complicated. He has a girlfriend, and I think (and I think I will tell him this is what I think) he shouldn’t do anything with me that he wouldn’t feel comfortable telling her about.
On Wednesday he said let’s go to swimming sometime this week, I said yeah sure and we agreed on Friday afternoon. It only occurred to me later that “going to the pool” seems to have date-like connotations here, at least amongst the high school kids. So I managed to invite some other friends to come along. In the end, Friday was not a great day for swimming in terms of weather, so we got out of that.
For New Year’s, we went to the town-wide street party. He considered that he had “invited” me, and as a result it was his responsibility to stay with me the whole night. I was actually grateful for that because it was the first time at a party here that only the one (slightly creepy) guy asked me to dance, normally I get harassed by more (mainly drunk) guys – essentially because it looked like we were a couple. He walked me home around 4am and we were outside talking for about half an hour. At some stage during that half hour, P called to ask how I was, where I was. I said I was outside the house with G, and she didn’t think that was the best idea, remember we talked about testimony? My first response was I can’t believe she had the nerve to talk to me about testimony! G said on a regular day it would look dodgy, but on New Year’s with a big party going on it wasn’t a problem. But he added that the fact she called means she cares.
The next day I told her I was surprised she was awake at that hour and that I appreciated her looking out for me. Viewing my own reaction to P’s comments about testimony, I can see how and why P may have responded defensively to me approaching her about her behaviour. But hopefully it is a good thing, a positive development, that we can both talk to each other honestly about the testimony issue.
So yes – a complicated issue. Thoughts and comments welcome!