Tuesday, August 17, 2010

fortune cookie faith

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To understand this story, you first need to know a bit about my dad. My dad is a wonderful man, a centered and well-thought-out man, a man of integrity. He loves his wife and his kids and has a work ethic rivalled by few. He’s got a big heart and a strong opinion. He loves God; and that – his faith – is the crux of this particular tale. This story takes place at his then-current work locale, on some evening, around some tables.

The people with him were coworkers; men who’d made no secret of their thoughts on my dad’s beliefs. But my dad had never made a secret of his faith either; he was questioned and challenged enough that he had answered enough people to have his faith turn into common knowledge. The atmosphere seems almost jovial to me, whenever I hear this story; they would tease my dad and sometimes the challenges would turn into deeper conversation. The point that you need to take forward, though, is that they were relentless in their pursuit of making him explain himself. They got a kick out of it, you could say. They thought it was funny that he believed in God and lived by faith. “It was known,” he said, “I didn’t believe in luck or fortunes.”

So it happened, on this particular evening around those particular tables that the company had provided these men with dinner. They were staying late on a course and at the dinner break, Chinese food was delivered. Everyone knows what happens at the end of a Chinese Food dinner: fortune cookies. The men finished eating and were opening their cookies, reading their fortunes, and enjoying themselves…until they noticed my dad. He hadn’t opened a cookie at all. This wasn’t an act of religious defiance, he simply wasn’t interested (nary a thought will cross my mind if someone walks by me with a liquorice allsort, and I think this might have been the same thing: it just didn’t occur to him). “OH come on,” they teased. This was too much! The Man who Believes, not reading his crispy fate! The conversation got riled up as more and more of the men decided that my dad, this cookie-non-believer, should read his fortune!

Finally, my dad smiled and sighed and cracked open the cookie for a room of rowdy grown ups.


Once he read his fortune, the men shut down immediately, and nobody wanted to talk about it anymore.
Because this is what it said:
“Your prayers will be answered.”

“It was a real good conversation killer,” says my dad when he retells the story.

I love this story. Something about seeing my dad calmly reading aloud a fortune to a room of men, who had hoped for more ammunition, kills me (wink. Holden reference. That was for you Sharelle). I like it more than that, though, because it reminds me how important it is to have a sense of humor about these things, from all perspective points. Had my dad gotten riled up and defensive, the story would not have had the same smart ending. It would have ended with a negative, instead of a noteworthy positive.

I wonder how many smart endings I’ve missed by being reactive instead of unruffled. Perhaps my North-American-Need to be RIGHT! and defended is actually losing me out of some of life’s best moments. If there is a corner to turn, or an edge to soften out, it might be in that exact location: reaction. How we react to people and their differing opinions will determine how they understand our beliefs, almost exclusively.

I suppose it might be stories like this one (above) that make me less afraid of difference; in people, in belief, in decision. Like maybe those fortune cookie moments are everywhere, and because we are too busy walking away in righteousness, we miss them.

2 comments:

alisha said...

Oooh, I really like this one, Ashley. Your dad sounds like one cool guy.

"I suppose it might be stories like this one (above) that make me less afraid of difference; in people, in belief, in decision. Like maybe those fortune cookie moments are everywhere, and because we are too busy walking away in righteousness, we miss them."

You are SO right. Thanks for the daily challenge ;)

Mama said...

Dad told me you called this morning and asked for this story again. He assumed you were going to blog about it but wasn't quite sure. I couldn't wait to see it and you retold it beautifully! So thrilled you shared it on here for others to be blessed by.