I watched her prepare for takeoff. She focused on her goal (me) and blasted off, smoke billowing in her wake. OK, so I'm making up the part about the smoke, but she did come at me in full force. I was tempted to turn and run but I didn't want to be rude. So I took a moment to prepare myself for her landing.
In three seconds flat, she landed. Two inches from my face. Oh how I wanted to scream! Instead, I slowly took a step back - make that, two steps. I couldn't help but recoil. You would too if you were confronted by a space invader!
Growing up, Space Invaders was a video game I played (I was pretty good too). These days, the Space Invader is my neighbor, Ruth. Now, Ruth is a nice person and all, but she has this annoying habit of standing too close. I mean, I like to maintain a distance far enough away so you can't actually smell the foul breath of the one you're talking to. Ruth had another turkey and onion sandwich on rye that day.
I wondered why I hadn't gone through with my idea to invent a belt that had three-foot spokes coming out of it in every direction. That way, acquaintances and Ruth would have no choice but to stay out of my personal space. It might take a few jabs before she got the point, but it really could work. Sounds brilliant, don't you think?
My personal space is reserved for my family, very close friends, and my doctor. As far as I knew, Ruth and I weren't related, we didn't have enough in common to constitute a close friendship and she was a school librarian, not an M.D. So there you have it.
That night, as we were getting ready for bed, I complained to my husband about Ruth. "I could actually see the booger in her nose - she was that close!"
"Honey, why don't you use the opportunity to minister to her? She doesn't attend church, right?"
"I don't think so. She once told me that she got, 'disillusioned with religious people,' when she was in her twenties. She says she has a hard time making friends and Christians seem fake. That's probably because they're trying to hold a smile and their breath at the same time. That could come across as 'fake.'"
My husband rolled his eyes. "Aren't you glad God doesn't step back when we invade His space?"
I narrowed my eyes at my oh-so-wise husband. He always had to make a point. Unfortunately, for me, they were always valid ones.
"OK, so lecture me," I said, plopping down on the side of the bed.
"No lecture," he said, kissing me on the top of my head. "I think you get what I'm saying."
I pouted for a moment. "Maybe I could minister to Ruth with a booger in my nose after eating a couple pieces of garlic bread. She might take a couple steps back at least."
"Do you really think she'd take the gospel seriously? She'd be repulsed."
"Then she'd know how I feel."
My adorable, patient husband shook his head and looked up at the ceiling. "I tried, Lord. I just don't think she gets it."
I couldn't help smiling. "OK, OK. I'll try to be nice. I understand your point. God accepts me as I am - boogers and all. He invites me close and never recoils when I enter his presence. I should be an example to Ruth. Show her that real Christians aren't fake. Even if that means putting up with distasteful things like onion breath. That's was Jesus would do, right?"
My husband looked up at the ceiling again. "By George, I think she's got it!"
It took a while but I actually started to overlook Ruth's similarities to the popular video game. I sometimes even invite her into my space for a hug. I've decided that my invention doesn't sound so brilliant after all. And now, on those days when she opts for turkey and onion on rye, I simply offer her a breath mint that I keep in my pocket. They come in especially handy in church, where she now sits next to me, her shoulder brushing up against mine.
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