In certain situations, there are certain adjectives that are just not preferable, no matter how accurate you feel they are.
In the situation of a girl without make-up: “tired,” “worn-out,” “haggard” are clear no-no’s.
In the situation of a girl on her period: “sensitive,” “hungry?” “cranky.” Nope.
In the situation of a girl having a crisis of faith, however small: “sad,” “dejected,” “so downcast o my soul.” Stop.
It takes a person of some wisdom to instead ask such a girl why she’s looking so…”pensive.” Instead of what she probably really looked like, which was probably something like “too apparently sad. and at work, at that. because she has no emotion filter.” or something like that.
It takes a person of some deep care to ask such a girl a few days later about how’s she’s doin’, still. call her “miss,” probably not even knowing how nice that sounds to her unattuned ears.
Cause then, that girl might just respond openly (albeit…pensively) and share with you her thoughts of late — about how there’s no archaeological evidence of the Jewish slaves’ exodus out of Egypt, about how she can’t remember those salient times when God seemed to have been real in her life, about how she’s still believin’, but how it’s just confusing and hard sometimes, but how she’s just trying to be honest about all that, instead of trying to be a preemie-wise sage, for once.
And then you might just proceed to have a conversation in a quiet corridor tucked away in the building next door, weirdly next to a mothers’ lactation room and a bunch of vending machines by which she keeps getting distracted. A place in this building that you’d never been to before, though you have worked at this place for 30-some years. You might just try your hardest to get through to this stubborn girl who isn’t even a nonbeliever but keeps asking you those nonbelievers’ questions — “how can you say this is divine appointment” “what if everything is just random” “what if I don’t believe in this whole construct so none of this makes any sense to me” — just because her heart feels hard and empty. You might still keep trying. You might remind her:
- there’s something innate in us that causes us to have faith in a whole bunch of things that may or may not be reliable. such as other drivers on the road. and a whole lot of food servers in the course of a lifetime.
- there’s something innate in us that rebels against death. it seems unnatural and wrong to us and we wish for some more time and we wish for more than just this life. (because we are eternal beings. we were meant for eternity, Ecclesiastes 3:11 “he has put eternity into man’s heart.”)
- feelings are unreliable. they can shift about and make you feel so sure one moment, then so uncertain the next. so how can you base your faith on such a thing. how can you even trust that certainty in the moment. faith is not a feeling.
- when God feels far away, it’s not He who has moved, but you. He’s holding ya in his hands.
Which are probably things she already knows, has learned before. But still, the reminders are good. They just might hit home and break the crackly veneer of hardness that was starting to choke.
And then, you know, she just might burst into tears right there in front of that lactation room and all those vending machines — so private yet so public — and you might have to offer her a hug and a prayer. Both of which she will gratefully and unresistantly accept, for the first time in a long time.