Love God, Love People

I talk about that phrase a lot.  For me, it’s what being a Christian is all about.  One of the other things I go on and on about is the idea that “it’s not about me”.  I’ve written whole posts about both subjects; here and here.  They sound really good, making big pronouncements about how we’re supposed to love and care for others.  But, there’s a problem; I suck at putting both into practice. 

I’m sure you think I mean in a social justice kind of way (I do talk about that a lot).  I wish I was; the truth is, I’m talking about a much more personal level.  You see, over the weekend, I did something that was very hurtful to someone I care for deeply.  And, I did it for the worst possible reason: it made me feel good.  Saturday, I was supposed to go the wedding of Diana’s daughter, Lauren.  We’d been talking about it for several months and she was justifiably excited.  We both got new stuff for the wedding; her, a new dress; me, a new sport coat.  I wasn’t able to make it to the rehearsal dinner Friday evening because I was sick, but I was going to be there for the wedding and reception.  As the big day neared, so did Hurricane Irene.  Soon, it became clear that the brunt of the storm was going to be upon us right about the time of the ceremony.  This caused a little trepidation, but that soon passed on Saturday as everyone realized Irene wasn’t going to give us as much trouble we thought.  Somewhere in this mix, I went to Greensboro to pick up Olivia as she spends the weekends with me.  I was a worried about her being home alone during the storm, but she’s a big girl and can take care of herself.  Finally, it was time.  I would say the wedding went off without a hitch, but I’d be lying.  There were a couple of glitches, but they were taken in stride and no one freaked out completely.  Honestly, I was impressed with Lauren’s aplomb; usually, when things start to go off the rails, brides don’t take it that well.  She, however, took it all in stride with an amazingly easy grace.  So, the ceremony was done, and was relatively painless as far as I was concerned.  That left the reception.  Which didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

You see, I’m not a people person.  I always say that I don’t need to be around people that much, that I just don’t need that much socialization.  While it is true that I don’t need to be around people, the truth of the matter is that I don’t like being around people; especially large groups of people I don’t know.  To be honest, it freaks me out a little.  I’ve learned to function in these situations, even to project an air of calm.  But, in reality, I’m far from comfortable.  One of the ways I deal with this is to limit the exposure; I don’t do these kind of things much and, when I do, I look for as early an out as I can possibly find.  I had already set one up by telling Olivia I’d be home about 7, knowing the party wouldn’t be over till long after that.  When she called and said the power was out because of the storm, that was just icing on the cake as far as I was concerned.  I mean, who would have a problem with me leaving early because of that?  Never mind that, as I said earlier, she’s a big girl and can take care of herself.  Or that there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about the situation (what, I was going to restore the power or something?).  If  you’re thinking “You left to take of your daughter, what’s wrong with that?”, think about this: I didn’t leave to take care of my daughter, I left because I saw a way out of an uncomfortable situation and I ran with it.  Basically, my comfort was more important to me than Diana’s feelings and desires.  To say I’ve damaged that relationship is an understatement and I hope it isn’t irreparable.  I just wish I’d realized this yesterday when we discussed things.  Not that what I did is any way excusable, but it would have been better than the lame-ass reasons that flowed all to easily from my lips.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with loving God and loving people.  It’s really pretty simple: If I can’t put my comfort on hold for someone this close to me, someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with, how the hell am I supposed to do the same for someone I don’t know?  I’m still working that out.