(photo via pinterest)
“Sorry” the lanky ginger guy mumbled as he realized that he was leaning on my armchair. Startled out of my thoughts, I noticed that he was sitting next to me for the first time. I had just been visiting my friend Divya up in Leeds and I was now heading back home on the train on a grey and chilly Sunday. I smiled politely and said
“So where are you heading back to then?” He said, his eyes half-closed and that was when we started to talk. Our conversation lead to jobs to traveling to cousins to why I was in England in first place (everyone knows that I’m not from here, I still can’t rid of my American accent). Cue the ‘my dad came here to plant a church.’ This is the bit where most people find out that I am a Christian, are intrigued by my life story, and then politely ask another question, not necessarily interested in spiritual matters. The ginger boy decided to ask something else.
“so what kind of Christian are you? Are you a serious Christian or indifferent or what.”
“umm” I was somewhat confused by his question.
“I suppose by that answer there are no level of Christian that you can be?”
“yeah, I mean because I’m a Christian, to me that means that I love Jesus and want to follow and serve Him always so yeah I’m a serious Christian if anything. I’m not sure if you can be anything else to be honest.” I struggled to explain my thoughts.
He nodded thoughtfully at that, staring at the seat in front and said “yeah I suppose that is the only Christian you can be. You’re either all or nothing.”
“yes!” I said, somewhat surprised by his answer “that’s exactly right.”
“I’m kind of jealous of people who have some sort of belief.” He admitted to me.
“Do you believe in anything?”
“umm no, not really. my parents are quite religious, they’re like you actually, they are quite serious about it, but my brother is the same like me, not sure. I think it’s better to be honest and say ‘no’ rather then say yes but then you actually don’t believe. Otherwise you’re just being a hypocrite.”
“yeah you’re right. It’s good when you’re honest. Can I ask you- well this is somewhat personal so don’t feel like you have to answer, why don’t you believe? What is stopping you?”
“hmm” he thought for a moment before saying “I don’t know to be honest. I’ve never had that moment of realization of ‘now I believe’ or anything like that. yeah I don’t know.”
“I find that belief is a choice. I have doubts sometimes, I had to search for myself, look, find out what is it that I believe. Ultimately I had to make a choice, either I’ll just ignore it and get on with my life or I’ll have to follow Jesus with my everything.”
“hmm…maybe we’ll meet again on a different train, and you can ask me what I believe and maybe I’ll say something different”
“okay I’ll remind you of this if we ever meet again, deal?”
“deal, is this your stop?”
He helped me with my bag and we said our goodbyes. Once I walked on the platform, I saw him in the window. We smiled and waved, two strangers showing respect for another human being.
If only we did that more often.