By Karen Lankford-Carnes
“Hi Melissa! Are we still on for lunch? Good, good. Mexican or Mediteranian? Nah I’m good with either. Great! I’ll see ya then. Say, uh, there’s something I want to talk to you about. Like adults, you know? Okay, I’ll see you ‘bout 1:00 then. Bye.” Izzy was a little concerned about this “talk” she wanted to have with Melissa, but she had to speak with someone about it. She wanted to understand the why and the how of it all. She didn’t like to be on the wrong side of the Lord. If Melissa were thinking the way that these others were, maybe Izzy was wrong. She couldn’t fathom what was happening. Best to get it out in the open, ‘stead of stewing for the next four years. Melissa is MUCH more spiritually mature than Izzy. Maybe Melissa was hearing something from God that Izzy couldn’t.“Thanks for picking me up...again!” Izzy was epileptic and legally forbidden to drive. It was beyond humbling, it was humiliating. She knew her own, worst character defect was pride, and accepted the consequences as a chance for growth. Still she hated it.
“Anytime!” said Melissa, “you know I always look forward to our lunches.” “As do I” laughed Izzy, knowing that she’d just blurted out loud nearly archaic phrase. “You’re not buying this time though, it’s my treat.” Izzy would later look back on the many times Melissa had picked her up and bought her lunch with more than a little suspicion about Melissa’s motives.
The friendship had developed under duress. Melissa’s husband had left her for another woman; Izzy’s fiance broke off their engagement with little warning, and she was quickly replaced.The two had known each other, rather, known of each other through mutual friends. They were both Christians; both deeply devoted to the Lord; they were now both single Christian women. The single-Christian woman was not only an anomaly, but were treated with ableism in the modern day denominations. As shown each week while the married women now sat just a little closer to their husbands. The two quickly came to know each other well, laughing at their unexpected situations, crying when it was called for. Their personalities were strongly allied. So was their faith. Their friendship was blessed by the Lord. He had sent them to one another at the exact moment they needed each other.
Over time, their lives made decisions for them,not all good,but not all bad. It made no difference in their bond. They each eventually married. Izzy became a mother and Melissa began to pursue her dream occupation.
There were signs that would cause Izzy to wonder, though never doubt. Every once in a while Melissa would say something that Izzy disagreed with. Izzy felt it best to let it go or meet it head-on. That’s what she was doing here today. She wanted to see this thing that was so far from her own beliefs and hopes. Izzy wanted to know what her friend was thinking in making the decision she had elected to make. Literally, while Izzy saw a potentially urgent humanitarian crisis develop, if it were allowed to continue unchecked.It wasn’t a direct question of religion, Izzy had always thought of religion as man made and destructive, it was a direct assault on Izzy’s faith using the intentional fallacy that she referred to as the “Christian-as-an-adjective” deception.
Izzy began hesitantly and honestly: “So, since everyone is resorting to schoolyard name calling, I wanted to have a conversation about the new President. Talk to me.Please explain why you felt he was the one to vote for.” She’s a single-issue voter, the bane of our existence. “Colton is a liar. There’s no way I would vote for her, and he’s not a politician, he’s a businessman.” Izzy replied “I know that you’re strongly against abortion, single-issue voters…” “Well it’s not ‘single-issue’. “Melissa cut her off.” “You prayed about this? And have peace about it?” Izzy inquired “Yes. I have absolute confidence in my decision to vote for him.” condescended. Izzy said’ “Melissa, you know what it’s like to not have insurance.” Melissa’s brows furrowed “Yeah, well, they’re gonna have to do something about that.” Melissa did admit that the president was “A little rough around the edges.” and laughed.
“Well, thanks for answering my questions,” Izzy said. “I wanted to ask a friend who is also a believer. To understand your position better.” then Izzy attempted to relieve what she felt in her spirit by bringing up abortion again. “Can I ask why you would hang your decision on the single-issue of abortion?” “It’s not just abortion!” Melissa was offended, now, but it was a fair question. She continued, “I feel like they’re sneaking into our country like the Trojan Horse.” “Who are?” Izzy was becoming more and more confused about her friend.And her friend was becoming more and more agitated.Izzy hadn't expected this at all. “The Muslims”, Melissa’s answer came, hitting Izzy with a perceived, but solid, punch to the gut. Wait.What? Izzy felt instantly polarized.
The check came, Melissa grabbed it up with a condescending smirk. “Wait! It’s on me!”called after Melissa, who was already standing at the cash register. “Oh no, my dear sister, I love to treat you!” her voice,too bright, her smile, too forced.
They got into the car and were silent until they reached Izzy’s house, 5 miles away. As she got out she said “Thanks for the lunch, again, and the talk.I understand your position much better now.” I do understand it,my friend is a racist.
Jesus, having observed the entire interaction, felt Izzy’s pain. He knew she didn’t understand.He also knew she wasn’t supposed to. As much as Melissa and Izzy were alike, they were also very different.
They both desired spiritual depth,but each had distinct temperaments. Jesus loved the differences in his chosen,but sometimes they would become too focused on being right which only hurt the cause.
Melissa and Izzy were very like the Apostles Paul and Peter. Melissa was strictly by the book; whereas Peter was bold, zealous and impetuous. Peter was the first of the Apostles to declare Jesus as the Son of God. Paul was in fact, initially named Saul and sought tirelessly in persecuting Christians, when God approached him with a different purpose in mind. With compassion and understanding, Jesus knew what these next few years held for his flock; he also knew the pain they would suffer. Jesus agonized over the rise of the many false prophets preaching their false, reprehensible gospel of Baal.
It was during this time that Izzy fell ill, eventually leading to a stay in a nursing home for physical rehabilitation; during which a plague emerged. Izzy saw her fears emerge before her eyes.
Melissa called Izzy at the nursing home, voice too bright, wanting to know how she was doing. The call felt obligatory to Izzy, like the luncheons had come to feel. “How are you, my dear sister?” Due to the plague, the nursing home had recently been put under quarantine. Izzy couldn’t have visitors, not even her family. This was personal.
Izzy tried to soften her next comment, but it wasn’t received as such. “Hey, your guy got kind of a late start on this thing”. Melissa blew up, screaming “POLITICS! I HATE POLITICS!!!...” That’s all Izzy remembered, and Melissa was still screaming, when Izzy calmly said “Have a nice night, Melissa.” and hung up.
“Lord?” Izzy whispered, before she began to cry… “Are you seeing this? You're seeing this, right?” His heart was breaking, because He was seeing it. Izzy tried to convince herself that this was somehow a necessary part of her country’s history, albeit a dark one, and it was being allowed with some intent.
Unable to let go of the friendship that had meant so much to each of them, Izzy felt that God would want them reconconciled. She called Melissa. They reconciled for a very short time. The last time Izzy spoke with Melissa was to wish her a happy birthday. Melissa asked Izzy how her husband and daughter were. Melissa’s tone conveyed to Izzy that she needn’t call again.