"I'll give you $15 if you'll move to another seat so I can have these two to myself." I looked up from where I was sitting on the bus to see a six-foot woman, red hair and sharp bangs, tattoos across her arms, carrying two overloaded bags on her shoulders. She smiled brightly, and I looked back at this crazy woman. In my summer-cold, foggy brain state, I mumbled a sure, and got up, but then she said, "Well, maybe let's wait until we see if the bus fills up anyways or not."
The bus did fill up, with one space available in between two people squished into three seats at the back. She offered me $20 to move once the bus was on its way, but at this point I was settled and sick and grumpy and didn't want to bother.
So we sat next to each other, and somehow she started talking about her studies in psychology and her plans to become a sexologist of all things (her dyed red hair wasn't the only thing bold about her!). I heard her life story, from her parents' split when she was two to leaving home at 14 and living on her own. I heard how she become addicted to drugs and hit rock bottom at 21, and after two tries finally getting clean. She exuded this confidence about her - whether it was the way she was listening to the cranky old woman setting across from us, or the way she shared whatever she thought or felt without a care.
And then the questions began. "So you said you're a Christian, right?" she asked, a bit of an amused smile on her lips. "So does that mean you're - you're saving sex for marriage?" Her amusement wasn't masked, and when I answered her she just laughed. "But like, what about compatibility with one another?" And we talked some more about what I believed and valued and she defended and disagreed but then the book was closed and she was onto her next question.
"So what about homosexuality, then?" she prods. I am infinitely aware of the lesbian couple sitting right behind us, and I squirm in my seat knowing they can hear every word. "So you think it's wrong? You think God says it's a sin?" And I sigh and answer as best as I can, knowing that the line is being drawn and I'm being looked at as if I'm the craziest person she has sat next to on a bus.
"And so you think I'm going to hell if I don't believe what you believe then, right?" she continues in amidst her other questions. Her eyes give away her incredulity and I can't help but feel like in this conversation, something has gone wrong.
Because somewhere along the line I had begun to fight for what we as Christians are against instead of also fighting for what we are for.
What if, instead of explaining why sex before marriage is wrong, I had also defended why sex only within a marriage is good?
What if, instead of explaining why homosexuality is wrong, I had also defended why relationships between man and woman are good and whole and perfect?
I felt like everything I had said to her wasn't heard because in my defence of what was wrong I'd lost sight of what we are for. Maybe what we are against and what we are for go hand in hand - but sometimes when we are attacked it's easy to lose sight of both sides and focus on just one. Because what's right is just as important as what's wrong.
As hard as that conversation was, I'm thankful I didn't take the $15. The lessons and the conversation and the doubts and the answers were worth far more than that.