I've changed over the years, and sometimes I get a pretty stark picture of it. A moment ago, while sitting in my car at the park, sipping coffee and setting about my work on my computer, a very pleasant older woman gently said "good morning", tapped on my window, and offered to give me some literature. I already knew what it was... an Awake magazine and a copy of The Watchtower. She, and the woman sitting in the driver's seat of their little red compact car, were Jehovah's Witnesses.
Over the years, I've done a lot of research about them. I do believe they are a cult. I do believe they have some screwy and wrong beliefs. And my ex wife's mother is a Jehovah's Witness. But you know what? I love her, still.
Some years back, I would have either refused the literature or taken it and tried to debate with the woman. And then later I would have joked about saving the magazines for when I run out of toilet paper or need some kindling to start a fire or something like that. But I didn't. Why?
Well, I think there are lots of reasons. I knew I was not in a position to stop working and have a long conversation with her. I knew I didn't even have the energy. I knew I was not going to sit there and debate the Trinity or try to tell her how the Watchtower organization is a fraud. And what I saw was a woman, a very pleasant woman, who was just trying to do the right thing and tell people about God.
Despite the freaky things about them, I've got to hand it to them... they take it seriously. There is something to admire about that. And this woman did not come across as a stereotypical cold, dour legalist. She was happy. Sweet, even. So, strangely, I admire her for having the conviction to do what she believes is right, even to disturb a stranger in the park to tell him "good morning" and hand him some literature.
And we had a short conversation about nothing at all, and we laughed. And it humanized her. She is just a woman, just like I am just a man. She laughs, cries, feels joy and pain, gets up in the morning and gets dressed and eats breakfast, has friends, and falls asleep at night.
So, from one person to another, even though I disagree with her, I wish her peace. The gravity of the matters she disagrees on are not necessarily small. I'm not saying truth doesn't matter. I'm saying that I believe you need to be able to chill out and pick your battles and appreciate people for who they are and where they are at. And you need to be able to recognize when someone is trying to love you, even if it is misguided.
Maybe I'm getting too fluffy in my old age :). Maybe I should be warning her of God's impending judgment. I don't know. But at that moment, I just took what she had to give, her gift which she really believes is something good for me, and I appreciated it.