The title almost sounds like the beginning of a book doesn’t it? But the truth is many of us don’t really know how to navigate the rough and stormy waters of interaction not only with non Christians but Christians too.
Today I’m going to show you how I hide myself among the crowd that nobody is ever any the wiser of who I am and what I’m doing. You’re not going to like it especially if you’re the squeamish type of Christian who doesn’t like concealment or telling little fibs.
King David has been on my mind recently for a couple of weeks now. I heard a mystic once say that when a Saint is on your mind it means he’s watching over you and reaching out to you so you should pray to him.
He is one of my favorite saints not because he was so pure and Holy, but because of his Loyalty. After all the killing and the adultery most priests walk away from the Church or are thrown out. King David remained and carried on his ministry. He’s the perfect example of the ordinary prophet.
When I was 17 years old I had a girlfriend and we would take walks in the local park and there we would make out under a big oak tree. As we walked through the park on a fine sunny day there was a group of dangerous young lads who had congregated on the green.
Seeing us both at a distance they began to get up and walk towards us. Their eyes set on me and their body language giving off all the signals that they were going to confront and beat me, I devised a little plan.
I turned to my girlfriend and said ”There are far too many of them, I’m going to act retarded, deaf and dumb and you’re going to play along. They will see I am disabled and perhaps allow us to go on our merry little way its our only chance.”
When they approached me I was already in character and they said ”What the fuck are you doing here you little prick?” I stood with my head waving as if I was retarded and made signals to both my ears and my mouth that I could not hear nor speak with them.
The leader of the group looked at me and said ”Oh I didn’t know you were deaf and dumb sorry” and my girlfriend remarked ”Yeah I’m his minder and I’m just taking him for a walk”.
In unison they all apologized and they let us move on. We got around the corner and when out of sight we busted into nervous laughter at how it all unfolded.
When I related the story to my father he told me that ”King David did the same thing as you”. When he was confronted by the servants of the King Of Gath whose name is Achish, David played the madman and behaved like a lunatic, banging the doors and letting spittle run down his beard. The king thought he was out of his mind and so let him go.
”And the servants of Achis, when they saw David, said to him: Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to him in their dances, saying: Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? But David laid up these words in his heart, and was exceedingly afraid at the face of Achis the king of Geth. And he changed his countenance before them, and slipt down between their hands: and he stumbled against the doors of the gate, and his spittle ran down upon his beard. And Achis said to his servants: You saw the man was mad: why have you brought him to me? Have we need of madmen, that you have brought in this fellow, to play the madman in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?” (1 Samuel:21:11-15)
He had hidden himself from them and that is how he survived.
There is a lesson to be learned from David here in a spiritual sense also. Often what I do is I hide myself among people by behaving with their temperament, going so far as even to mirror their speech. I do this either to survive or to help them in their conversion.
One thing I don’t do is compromise my faith around them. You see it’s not easy for Christians who want to live a life of spiritual perfection to remain in a civilized life. Many therefore who have this vocation will often retreat into a monastery or other sustainable way of living. Some may even create jobs for themselves in the Catholic sector that they purposefully do not have to engage nor work for the secular world.
Some of us however are not so fortunate or we have different vocations to evangelize the world and you know no vocation is better than the other but it’s a dirty messy job. There are those of us who have to engage with the world we have not a choice.
I was saying before that in conversation with someone, when you’re extremely Christian in front of them and silent around them protecting yourself from sinning, the worldly person does not understand what’s going on. The devil deceives him and plants thoughts in him that you’re acting nuts, being rude and paranoia sets in.
He sees that you’re not really a copy of himself which he’d love because us humans carry a shopping list of the kind of friends we want. If it is discovered that you’re not on that list friendship can be nigh impossible.
Rich people don’t mix with poor people, they’ve a different mindset. Therefore Poor people will surround themselves with other poor people and rich people often befriend others with similar traits. It’s the way the world works and so we will never change it but we can use it to help souls and to survive.
With regards to survival we all know it’s wrong to fire someone on the basis of their religion. However many get fired on the basis of their religion in a roundabout way. If your boss is speaking with you, you’re Christian way of behaving is a constant reminder to him that his behaviour is less than desirable. Therefore you become a thorn in his side. All it takes is for even one co-worker to smoke you out of your job on the basis of religion. Therefore Children of light cannot really engage with the world without falling victim to it.
What happens the Christian in the workplace is that they will overload you with work and burn you out that you may quit of your own accord or devise another plan in keeping with the law. It’s really that bad for Christians.
I on the other hand have chosen to hide myself. I will curse like they do but I retain my limitations of just what bad words I’ll mirror and I won’t take the Lords name in vain. I’ll give you an example, someone brazenly opens their phone and presents to you a porno image ”Check out the tits on her”.
You can turn around and say ”I’m Christian and I wouldn’t be interested in that” but you’re letting the devil find you. I’d handle it like ”What? nah no way man, get the fuck outta here I’m not looking at that, my woman’s the only one for me and that’ll do”. I say it laughing and putting my arm around him to make him feel relaxed and that I’m not scolding him then I divert the conversation quickly to something else. You’ve still planted a seed in his wee brain that what he’s doing is wrong but you’ve done it in a way that kept you oblivious.
Would I behave this way around a practicing Christian who behaved the same way? Absolutely not I’d go through him like a choo choo train and he’d be sorry he ever pulled that with me.
I will concede here though that some friendships with people can be nigh impossible and that sometimes it does come to a surface in which we can no longer hide and must be direct but there are no many ways to avoid being direct and developing tension. You can be direct with people you’ll never see again but when you’re working on someone to convert them and seeing them daily in the workplace it’s not so easy. Therefore going incognito mode is the only sure way of survival.
The cons of it is that you can develop bad speech habits and personality traits. You have to take care of your psyche and spiritual dispositions. Regularly retreating into the mountains as Jesus did and into prayer to recharge your batteries is what you need to do so that you don’t end up catching fleas by lying down with the dogs and by dogs I mean the secular way of behaving and their philosophy.
King David did it, the angels of Sodom and Gomorrah did it, Pope Francis told lies to the Militia in Argentina to smuggle people out to freedom and you can do it too but you just need to let go sometimes of your fear of offending God.
God sees whats in our hearts and understands the motivation. But the Sacrament of Confession once a week is also important as it keeps you clean. You often shower yourself every day to keep clean before the world, why not do the same at least once a week and be clean before God?
One last example before I retreat into my glass of beer. I put up a post on my private facebook page how I found it odd that an LGBT flag would be flying from a Catholic school and why don’t the bishops just hand over the school arleady? They might as well have done so.
A protestant Christian friend of mine commented something like ”Homosexuality is of the devil and anyone who is homosexual and commits these acts are doing the devils work” . Is she right? Of course but her method and approach was all upside down, and as I’ve got people on my facebook page who I’m trying to convert I deleted her post.
Such a post will make matters worse. Remember Jesus said that he who works for God gathers the sheep he doesn’t scatter them. There are sadly Christians out there who think they’re doing good work but are in fact scattering the sheep and the souls who need converted.
I’ve seen it myself where hardcore Christians come up to newly converts or people just sticking their heads in the door of the church for a look and speaking to them about things that are spiritually too much for them to handle. These Christians are loved by God but they’re the bane of my existence.
Interacting with new converts takes a little more than just throwing the catchism at them and behaving like St.John of the Cross around them. Likewise behaving with the world and getting through it is not easy but King David teaches us a valuable lesson here. Disguise yourself, go incognito and you make life more difficult for the devil.