Friday, August 13, 2010

Tram Stories II

A Slightly Cleaner Sinner 

Summertime was a happy time to be pregnant in France. I don’t want to sound sarcastic. Gelato beckons from every corner (Italian ice cream for those deprived beings who don’t know). Sunshine on my expanding tummy and the discovery of my best friend, H2O water…I enjoyed it, even on days when I missed having an air-conditioner.

But I soon learned that I preferred to walk in the heat, than to take the tram. One day, before I had figured this out, I was riding the tram instead of walking home. I was glad to be sitting and was doing relatively well in the heat and smell of perfumed-covered sweat.

Then a man sat down in the empty seat beside me. I could almost see the smoke of the cigarette he had just finished. I focused on the tips of my toes, which peeked from under my large belly, struggling with nausea. Out of the corner of my eye, I identified the other odor, which caused such a reaction; his open beer can.

I turned my head to the window as a wave of nausea rose. The glass felt cool on my forehead as I reviewed my options. The tram was full and he was on the aisle-side; escape was impossible. More importantly, I didn’t want the man to see how repulsed and uncomfortable I was. If did he see, could I explain that I wasn’t afraid of his ragged unwashed appearance, that given the opportunity, I’d even try to help him?  

Yet when I faced forward again, my hormone-induced hyperactive nose, discovered that the unwashed sweat smells were too much. I choked on my saliva, bile churning in the back of my throat.

One more tram stop and the man stood up and left, taking his cocktail of olfactory evils with him. I breathed a sigh of slightly cleaner air, embarrassed by the relief I felt. Even if I hadn’t been pregnant or nauseous, would I have treated him better? Was there anything that I could have said or done? Probably not.

It reminds me of a discussion in my Bible study. We talked about non-Christians feeling like there was a “them” and “us” mentality in the church. Do believers treat others as “unclean,” as nauseating as I found my tram partner? I hope not. Yet are there unavoidable differences in worldviews, gaps in comprehension and understandably incompatible loyalties? I believe it does happen.

I hope, however, that our hands will not be afraid to touch the grime of sinfulness. Though our noses may be offended, that we will swallow our self-righteousness, go and sit next that person. If we are saved, it is by His Grace, and with the responsibility of sharing His Love, not keeping it to ourselves. I pray that we would reduce the effect of “them” and “us,” remembering that there are no respectable sins, no slightly cleaner sinners.

1 comment:

  1. So true, Jenna! Thank you for sharing. Dad