Jan 28, 2008

friends don't...

So there's a local cafe here in town called Cool Beans.

I wish I'd thought of patenting that name back in the 80's when I started using the catchphrase, but sadly I must remit that I am merely a consumer and not an owner of the aforementioned exclamation (often spouted off by girls in the 80's who used Aussie hair spray... which, I have to say, was the best smelling hairspray ever you'd get a big whiff of when you were bored in English class and slumped forward toward the helmet head of a girl named "Heatha" - actually, it was "Heather" but she said it that way so I assume she's since had it legally changed).

But I digress.

So Cool Beans is a nice place... while I still don't drink coffee and never will I do enjoy their Italian sodas with a little shot of whip cream.

Not too long ago on a date night with the love of my life, we ended up looking for a place to eat. A couple of places sounded good, but either it was too much money for a plate of crackers or at second glance our stomachs simply said "Ah... no." Although Cool Beans is more known for being a place to obtain a hot beverage, they do serve food and so we walked on over.

I don't know the last time you stared at a hanging chalkboard with sandwich choices, but it can take a while. You ask questions to yourself like, "What exactly is a sammie?" and "Why is it listed twice when the only difference is one is on sourdough while the other is made with marble rye?" Accordingly, I found myself sort of scanning around the place while my wife pondered what she would order. That's about when I saw this particular bumper sticker:

"Friends don't let friends go to Starbucks."
I chuckled, of course, because I know many folks who are hooked on the Buck's "Mocha Locha Choka Roka Toka Boka Folka Yolka Soaka Mucho Grande Largie Margie Chargie, with a shot of Red Bull." Or whatever it is that is served there.

Then I started thinking again about how dangerous it is to think of Starbucks types in this way... because it turns people into "them" and allows "us/me" to be somehow better than "them."

You know how this goes, right? Think about the last time you said/heard something like this...

  • "I can't believe those 'big shots' up on the third floor! Do you know what those idiots did...? I just don't get them."

  • "Saw some of those crazy Amish people again. I just don't get them."

  • "Did you hear about what those crazy liberals are up to now? I just don't get them."

  • "What a closed-minded group of conservatives. Bunch of hypocrites, too. I just don't get them."

  • "Have you heard the latest from the _______ church people? I just don't get them."

  • "Guess what the Hollywood agenda is these days. I just don't get them."
Did you catch the common theme there? Of course you did.

How often do we try to put labels on people we don't understand because it's a lot easier to sum them up than it is to explore a relationship?

I like it how one sharp lady put it...

"Because you're not what I would have you be, I blind myself to who, in truth, you are." - Madeleine L'Engle

So maybe there is more to girls named "Heatha" than the Aussie spray phase, even if that's how I remember them.

And it could be that the guy or gal thinking of sandwich board options is trying to think of whatever way they can to let the customer know they matter and this place wants to serve them.

It could very well be that you've also summed up someone incorrectly on a spiritual or theological level.

The question is will we become people who build fences or bridges?

Keep in mind, I still won't be drinking coffee anytime soon nor anytime later. Building a bridge doesn't need to change what happens in my household... sometimes it should, but often it doesn't.

And yet I find that most of my appointments with people I'm trying to reach out to seem to take place at Cool Beans or Panera, noted for their watery-caffeine-beaned-drinks. Usually when I'm travelling my friends prefer to connect at Starbucks.

So the way I see it I can either build a fence or a bridge. Something tells me that the cross is best suited for one versus the other.

"Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31, MSG)


green said...

"How often do we try to put labels on people we don't understand because it's a lot easier to sum them up than it is to explore a relationship?"

More often than I care to admit.

"Because you're not what I would have you be, I blind myself to who, in truth, you are." - Madeleine L'Engle

Some, if not all, of the most rewarding, lasting relationships we have were formed with a little time and effort. SO I try to be open minded in new relationships as much as humanly possible.

Kayla said...

Wow..I saw you on Green's blog and decided to check out your blog. What a lovely and touching post.
Pictures are a nice touch too.
I was convicted.

Anonymous said...

I like this post a lot. Thanks.

Chris Marsden said...

It is funny how this thinking works. You don't like "them" (whoever them is) and then you discover you are friends with a number of "them" you just didn't realize it. And then all of a sudden, you realize that you are not all that different from "them". And if your friend (who is one of "them") can be so normal, then maybe the other "thems" are rather normal too you just lack perspective.

I'll never understand those people who don't drink coffee. Just something unnatural about not enjoying one of God's greatest creations.

JK of course (sort of). But for the record, those people are related to them.

hennhouse said...

And it is really amazing how many "them" categories we have developed over the years. Excellent post.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks, guys. This is the core of the Gospel, isn't it? It seems like anything less is manufacturing security because deep down there is insecurity.

jerry schwartz said...

guilty as charged. man i needed to read this.