Living With Meaning: A Waiting Room Chat

August 13, 2011

by Maria Fontaine

I was sitting in a waiting area and was dictating an idea for a written prayer when a young man sat down nearby and started a conversation with me. Perhaps he overheard parts of what I was saying into my Dictaphone and realized that I must be interested in spiritual things. He smiled and politely said hello as he looked straight into my eyes. His name was Nic.

Then, after a moment of hesitation, he jumped in with both feet and said, “You know, I usually use my lunch break to study my notes on the Scriptures.” He said it confidently, as though he felt sure I would understand.

I was happy for the opportunity to pour a little encouragement into a life that I felt pretty sure would use it to in turn help others. When the conversation advanced to his telling me that he had been a missionary away from home for a couple of years, I was even happier to share what I felt might strengthen his convictions and vision. Realizing that he might be a Mormon, I asked him if he was, which he confirmed.

I said, “I think that’s a very admirable thing to do. I admire the Mormons because they have conviction to put feet to their faith and action behind their talk. The upbringing Mormons receive and the qualities that  they gain during their time in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is very evident to others.”

He respectfully listened, basking in the fact that I appreciated his faith and sincere efforts to live what he believed. I told him my story about witnessing to a young Indian woman a few days earlier and how my husband and I had suggested that she could worship Jesus even if she was a Hindu. Then I said, “I don’t exactly know how you go about giving your witness, but I enjoy hearing interesting methods that I can try or share with others. And I like to share what I’ve found helpful, in hopes that it might give others food for thought.

After a few more questions and some discussion, we concluded that the important thing is to have a relationship with God and His Son, rather than focusing on any particular set of rules or on belonging to a particular group. As we parted, I gave him a tract. He seemed genuinely happy to have talked, and we agreed to pray for each other.

This little experience reminded me that appreciating and encouraging others who are strong in their faith in God’s Word and doing their best to share it with others, even if it doesn’t fit exactly with the way we do it, is part of our witness of Jesus’ love. Jesus loved all and was willing to be a friend to all who wanted His love. Regardless of our personal beliefs, or our specific doctrines or methods, we can still convey Jesus’ welcoming Spirit and find common ground so that we can encourage others in and appreciate what they are doing for Him.

Photography by João Felipe Khury