My favorite part of being Christian was evangelism; I LOVED witnessing. I loved handing out tracts, apologetics, all of it. I especially loved when atheists or people from other religious backgrounds argued with me so I could show off my sweet Christian knowledge. You see, at this time I was full of enthusiasm about having found Jesus, but I completely lacked any restraint or any concept of how annoying I was probably being when I witnessed. Now this is not to say that all witnessing or religious evangelism is annoying, but I promise you, I lacked two very important things: tact and restraint. There was nothing subtle about my strategy. This was not a good thing.
This post isn't about religion, though, not really.
Strangely enough, this post is about food.
All the passion I felt inside about Jesus and Christianity at that time is similar to the passion I now feel about living a healthy and chemical-free life. However, I'm older now so I like to think that I'm at least a little better at achieving a level of tact and restraint when I talk about it. You see, it's not that I attempt to evangelize people with regard to matters of health, but the truth is, sometimes I accidentally find myself doing it.
To be honest, I was a little shocked and disappointed. I mean, these are still people, right? And the reality is, they truly believe in what they believe and all they want to do is "help" those around them to do the right thing.
We kept walking.
When we finally agreed on a coffee shop, we ordered some drinks, and grabbed seats. I happened to be drinking a regular coffee that day with cream and sugar.
"You know..." she said, as she looked across the table at me. "You really shouldn't drink coffee. There's lots of caffeine in it and it can de-regulate your hormones."
"Yeah I know I shouldn't drink it, but I'm totally tired right now, so I'm going to just try and enjoy it." I responded.
"What's worse..." she continued "is the sugar and cream. Do you know how bad sugar is for you? I read a book on it..... [blah blah blah]"
"Yes, I know. Like I said, I know I shouldn't really drink it."
"Even the milk, you know, they say that the milk in Canada doesn't have hormones in it, but the reality is, so much of it is actually from the states and then they package it here so it says it's from Canada.... [blah blah blah]"
"Yeah totally. So about that work we're here to do..."
I was really polite about it, but you know what I wanted to say? HOW DARE YOU OFFER ME YOUR UNSOLICITED NUTRITION PROPAGANDA, I HAVE MY OWN BELIEFS, I DID NOT ASK YOU WHAT YOUR OPINIONS WERE ON THEM, F*** OFF!
|Are those Bibles or tiny cookbooks?|
Ok, I didn't really want to tell her off, but at that moment it all totally clicked in my head: no one wants to be criticized about their lifestyle, habits, beliefs, whatever. Whether it's religion or it's nutrition, there's a way of approaching these things and there's a way of NOT approaching them. Not 10 minutes prior to this conversation my friend was up in someone's face for imposing beliefs on her, but when it came to witnessing to me about her anti-coffee/sugar/cream beliefs, she gave it no second thought. The difference? Values. We all value different things, and we give significant weight to the things we personally value, and we don't place any weight on the things we don't value. To my acquaintance, health and nutrition were so important to her that she wanted very badly to share her knowledge with me... no different from a Jehovah's Witness trying to do the same. Because she doesn't believe in what the Jevohovah's Witnesses had to say, she assumed they were wasting her time by trying to get their message across to her. At the end of the day, she'd probably bet her life her beliefs were correct and totally worth sharing with those around her, and the Jehovah's Witnesses very likely feel the same about their beliefs.
I hate to admit it, but I sometimes find myself doing the same sort of thing. If someone offers my kid something I don't allow him to eat, instead of just declining, I find myself going on and on about why we don't eat it. When I do that, I'm not really helping anyone, I'm just sort of making the person who is offering feel badly about foods they eat and making them feel vulnerable. Not cool, Monika, not cool. Or if we are out with friends eating, and someone says they love something, I find myself saying "oh we don't eat that because we read blah blah blah blah." Again, not cool. Instead of it actually transferring information I deem valuable to this person, it just makes them feel like crap. Maybe every so often they Google it, and maybe they sometimes even do their own research and come to the same conclusion as me, but it doesn't feel good in the moment.
So we all have all these beliefs, and we want so badly to share them with the ones we love, but how do we do this in a way that's not alienating? I'm not entirely sure. All I know is, we need to be tactful but even more so, we need to value not only our beliefs, but we need to value the people we love. Sure, I love it when someone I care about asks me about my opinion on a health matter, but from now on, I'm going to try and wait for them to ask me for it instead of offering it up at awkward opportunities. After all, you don't want to be the kind of person people try to avoid. More importantly, the Christians I admired (and still admire) are not the ones who are constantly spouting their beliefs at every opportunity, but rather, they are the people who live them. So instead of just taking about good decisions, just make them. I promise people will notice.
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