I am sitting down with a couple of acquaintances, a husband and his wife, listening to them as they pour out their heart to me. The husband tells me he has never had another man with whom he could confide in, and is amazed that he can do so with his wife listening in. His wife tells me she feels like she could tell me anything; how can this be since they barely know me?
As the evening progresses, they start talking about their careers. They tell me about the stresses, the challenges, and a few of their successes. Over time, this conversation always gets around to the point I dread.
The husband asks me what I do for a living.
“I am a carpenter”, I answer.
Suddenly, the quiet is almost unbearable, and I silently ask God if I have to tell them I am also a small business owner and a finish carpenter/contractor of some skill. I ask Him why being just a carpenter cannot be enough? Why do I have to wait for their questions, gently probing me, wondering if that’s all I wanted to be.
This Christian man and his wife are more tactful than most. The husband tells me, of course, that it makes no difference to him what a man does for a living, so long as it’s honest. Besides, some carpenters can make fairly good money, if they are good enough, and willing to take the plunge into the REAL business world, and start a business of their own, he concludes.
I offer no response, but wait for them to leave the subject. I can tell now that they are uncomfortable with this topic as well, and clearly wish that they had not brought it up. I am content to be a listener, but invariably, the conversation always come down to this.
On rare occasions I am pleasantly surprised by people’s reaction to the fact that I am a carpenter. Most times, I am not. That is why I ask God to keep my secret, to let people see me as I am, not as they want me to be, or thought I was. Intimacy cannot be bred on such fickle soil as livelihood or profession. But if you can look past all that stuff, you can get to the heart of matters very rapidly.
I prefer to tell people I am a simple carpenter, if they ask. Whether they be a believer or not doesn’t matter. Their reaction is almost always the same. I find that sad in a way, but not for me. I am reconciled to the fact that I am a carpenter for a long time now. But they are not, and they are missing the best part of a relationship because they are struggling with trivial matters.
How many trivial matters am I stuck on? This post has left me wondering that.