THE ME I CHOSE NOT TO BE

God has revealed so much to me lately about the me I could have become. Whether He shows me through someone who is where I was two or three years ago, or through a glimpse of what I could turn into, He’s been showing me a lot lately, or rather, I’m just now able to see it all.

I’m still sitting here shaking my head over this one. I’ll refer to this episode as, “The Referral.”

Tuesday, the IT guy at my company referred a call to me — an older woman who wanted computer tutoring. One, he knows I can handle that sort of thing, and two, he knows any extra money I can get would be appreciated. I took the call and had already made up my mind to give her my roommate’s number. Jene’ is up to 30 hours a week at her new part time job, but it barely covers the bills. If she wants to eat, then she has to pick up extra work. (Like babysitting tonight).

I was thinking, “great! This can get Jene’ some extra cash.” The woman tells me that she wants to set up her business on the computer and then be tutored on how to use it. I was immediately grateful I had referred her to Jene’, because Jene’ is really good at the setup process as well, whereas I’m still learning. I gave her Jene’s cell phone number.

And then it happened. The woman’s tone turned cold and manipulative. She said that the last person who helped her on the computer did it for free and that the only reason she was calling for help was because he was off to seminary and unavailable to help her. She said, “he helped me for free because he’s a Christian and Christians help each other like that.”

My gut was churning. I knew this woman was going to be trouble. Instantly, I wished I could have sucked Jene’s phone number back into my mouth. I had also let her place of employment slip during the conversation…ala “she only has a part time job at **** and could really use the extra work.” She then asked if she could call Jene’ at work and I told her no. Emphatically. I told her that Jene’ did not take personal phone calls at work and not to call her there. She agreed and said that she would not call until later in the evening.

(For Jene’s account read her blog: Jene’s Blog ) She repeated the “Christians should help Christians” mantra several times. I explained to her, politely and calmly, that of course Jene’ would charge a fee, but it would be much less than what most computer gurus cost. I told her that most computer help costs $120 an hour and she gasped. “That’s obscene for a Christian to charge another Christian that much!” Forget a worker being worthy of her hire whether they be heathen, saved, confused or unsure. No, in her little world, a Christian should not charge full price for anything. I also wondered if she would charge full price at her business to other Christians. I had a feeling she would.

I told her, again, that Jene’ would charge much, much, much less, but she still played the guilt card. I told her that Jene’ already volunteered her time at other places but really needed to be paid for her work right now. And, because I was at work and needed to get back to it, I told her to talk to Jene’ and see if they could work something out.

I called Jene’s cell and left her a message, mostly apologizing for referring this woman to her, because I knew she’d be trouble. Trouble doesn’t even begin to describe this woman. Troubled is more like it. Disturbed.

THIS WOMAN CALLED JENE’ AT WORK and repeated the ChristianS should help Christians mantra and tried to manipulate Jene’ into helping her. When I heard this, I was more than perturbed. Jene’ told me she got the call before she checked her voicemail. Jene’ is the discerning sort and even before I explained that I told this woman NOT to call her at work she knew she didn’t want to work for her.

Jene’ had left this woman’s phone number at work so she did not call her until today. She left her a message saying simply that she did not want to work for her. Later this evening, the woman called back and wanted to know WHY. (Never ask Jene’ why unless you want to know the answer).

Jene’ told her that she couldn’t work for someone who couldn’t keep their word for even an afternoon. She explained that she knew I told her not to call Jene’ at work, yet she did so anyway. The woman said, “and that’s unforgivable?” Note she did not ask for forgiveness. Jene’ explained that what someone does in an instant is a big indicator of a person’s character. I heard the word judgment come out of Jene’s phone. The conversation deteriorated from there. The woman melted into an annoying whine about how she was a destitute widow and how Jene’ must not be a Christian because she turned her down, etc.

Meanwhile, this woman whined so loudly that I heard her end of the conversation. I was in the living room and Jene’ was in the kitchen while all this was going on. Jene’ had already been hung up on once at this point and this woman had called back to accuse her of judgment and all sorts of things. She misquoted Scripture at Jene’, then tried her Christians should help Christians mantra again. She tried to manipulate someone who is absolutely unmanipulatable and Jene’ just doesn’t care what other people think of her.

Jene’ was calm during this whole exchange. She was loving toward this woman. She listened. She did not raise her voice. Yet this woman calls back a third time to tell Jene’ that God does not have mercy for people like her. Again, Jene’ was calm, loving.

I sat on the couch, stunned, mostly because I can’t believe that after the initial conversation of, “no, I can’t work for you,” that this woman didn’t just let this go and try to find someone else who would fall for her guilt spiel. She continued to harrass Jene’ and manipulate and make her control-freak power play. I was simply stunned by the whole mess.

I know what affected me about this woman… It was like looking in a mirror that shows you one possible future. The “if you don’t change, you will become this person,” or the “if you hadn’t changed you would have become this person,” mirror. If I had not taken the steps I’ve been taking over the last decade — esp the last 3 years — (a total retraining of how I see myself, and it’s an ongoing process), I would be this woman in 30 years. Probably sooner. I would be bitter, manipulative, angry, destitute, and alone.

Jene’ has hung in there with me and fought tooth and nail to keep me from becoming like this woman. She has helped me see that the road less traveled is the better one. The road I have chosen is a tougher one, but much more worthwhile. She has stood by me and helped me hammer at the chains of bondage that my family and circumstances of life trapped me in.

Now that those chains have been broken, she’s helping me walk away from them. For the longest time, I sat there and looked at those chains and found comfort in their familiarity. I didn’t know how to live without them. Finally, I have moved at least a few steps away. Someday, I hope to be so far away I can’t see the chains anymore… that I can’t even remember what they look or feel like.

If I ever forget why I’m making this journey, I’ll think of this woman. Scratch that. If I ever forget why I’m making this journey, Jene’ will give me a swift but loving kick in the butt.

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