I got to East Lansing a little early on Sunday.
For those who are unaware I have been driving out there for church on Sundays. I am filling the pulpit at Greater Lansing Church of Christ, a small congregation that is interested in getting outside themselves and really beginning to engage their community. I think they asked me to come speak to them about what we are planning to do in Pontiac in hopes that some of that passion would be contagious and they would begin to really think outside the box about how to reach out to folks in East Lansing, but anyway…
I got to Lansing a little early on Sunday. I had left my house early thinking that the rain would slow me and traffic down a little, but the roads were wide open and I was free to drive as fast as I liked so I got there in a little under an hour. I decided to kill some time by just driving around campus.
Not long into my drive I pass a girl in a tight white dress, short skirt, soaking wet. She was holding herself and rubbing furiously, walking without an umbrella in the rain. My assumption was that this wasn’t a leisure stroll, but rather the walk of shame from wherever she was the night before, to where she lived.
I pulled over, asked if she needed a ride and she accepted.
“I’m Cole,” I said, reaching my hand out.
“Bonnie,” she said, shaking my hand.
“What are you doing walking in the rain?”
She confirmed my assumptions. Said she’d been out drinking, met some guy who lived just off Grand River and spent the night with him. She woke up this morning a little embarrassed and was walking to her house before he woke up.
I told her she would have to give me directions since I didn’t know my way around East Lansing. “Oh yeah? What are you doing here?”
“Oh… umm… I am actually speaking at a church just down the road.”
With that she shut down. “Oh my gosh…”
“What?” I asked.
“I can’t believe I told you all of that. You must think I am such a whore.”
I assured her that wasn’t the case, that someone could pull some pretty harsh conclusions about me depending on when and where they met me. I told her the church I was speaking at was open, loving, and in fact would love to meet her if she was interested in coming. She laughed and said she didn’t think she was interested.
I dropped her off at her apartment, about a mile from where I had picked her up and about two miles from the apartment where she had spent the previous night. She said thanks, I made some comment about staying dry and we parted ways.
Bonnie’s timeline and decisions are interesting to consider.
1) She was comfortable having sex with someone who was all but a stranger to her.
2) She decided that she would rather walk two miles in the cold rain than wait for him to wake up.
3) She was comfortable climbing in the car with a complete stranger.
BUT…There was no way she was comfortable with church.
Where have we gone so wrong that people would prefer a long walk in the cold rain while wearing practically no clothes than spending time in church?
I get it of course. I wasn’t surprised by her refusal or by the conversation shutting down when she found out I was working for a church. In fact, my talk this morning was about judgementalism, losing our love for people and what the world needs from the church. I was speaking to the exact feelings that Bonnie was feeling next to me in the car.
I’ll probably never see Bonnie again. We didn’t exchange numbers or anything. I dropped her off at her apartment, went and bought some coffee and headed back to the church building. I told some of her story in church today as an illustration about how many young people today feel about the church and its attitude toward their mistakes. Bonnie helped drive my point home. I think the people I talked to today learned something from Bonnie. It is a shame she would never want to be there to see it.