My dad once told me, that when a person leaves the
room, you never remember what they said. You don't even remember
what they did. No, you just remember their presence. What kind of
presence did they carry with them? Was it happy and uplifting? Or
was it negative, critical, demeaning? Or perhaps it was somewhere
in the middle.
As I sat at Arby's, eating my chicken sandwich,
listening to my dad talk, I realized he was absolutely right. He
got me thinking: what kind of presence do I want to leave? What
kind of presence am I leaving now? Sometimes I wonder why my dad
isn't a pastor…not only is he a great Christian (I'm not talking
about just the technical stuff like reading your Bible and
prayer…I mean he REALLY loves God) but he just has this way of
inspiring people. Of creating these deep thoughts in you that you
never knew you had.
Anyway, I was just checking my facebook account
earlier and I received a notification: "Nick has written on your
wall." So I go to my homepage and read the message. "Thanks for
the birthday wishes Amanda. I hope you're doing great! miss you.
Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head
was "miss you"???! Doesn't that usually mean he likes you? Hey, I
don't know, that could just be me overanalyzing things…but I
remember a guy telling me once, that if a guy says "I miss you,"
it's really code for "I like you."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not in love with Nick or
anything. Actually, I thought I liked him, but it was for a very
short period of time. When we met at summer camp last year, I was
convinced I liked him, or at least, I was attracted to him. It
was rather interesting how we met. I remember hearing: "What
instrument do you play?" or something along those lines. Did I
mention this was music camp?
Well, anyway, we were at breakfast, and I was pretty
sure he was hitting on my roommate (who is gorgeous by the way).
Even though we were surrounded by hundreds of other random high
school kids, I suddenly felt like a third wheel. Later when I
asked her about it though, she said "Nick, are you kidding? He
wasn't hitting on me!" There's modesty for ya.
As it turned out, Nick and my roommate Haley, and I
ended up becoming friends pretty quickly. One day after practice,
we went down to Tate Street together. We stopped in the bookstore
and all he could look at were the "hot" models, wearing basically
nothing on the cover of postcards. Then somehow we started
talking about pick-up lines.
In case you're not aware of this, talking about
pick-up lines with a remotely cute guy (not only cute, but ever
so slightly cocky) is a bad idea. A really bad one. He just
couldn't stop bragging. "Yeah, I pick up girls all the time." And
you're telling me this, why?
So, to test out his theory, he heads over to two
random girls. He thinks they're hot (personally I thought they
were average). I couldn't hear his voice but I could just imagine
him saying something like "Hey baby, I think you're cute." Five
seconds later, to my shock (literally, my jaw dropped), they pull
out their little cellphones and starts giving him their numbers!
He sure didn't waste any time.
And that was the last we saw of Nick for a few days.
We were supposed to eat lunch together, but guess what. He
cancelled his plans for two new brunettes he picked up in the
bookstore. Guess Haley and me (or maybe just me) weren't
attractive enough for that player.
A few days later we did end up talking more. We were
on our way to the dorm together one day, when we start talking
about our futures. I ask him what he wants to do, he says "Make a
lot of money." I laughed. He wasn't kidding. I remember him
making me laugh earlier. Back then it seemed more…innocent. But
the more I got to know him, the more I felt like I didn't want to
get to know him. All he seemed to care about was himself. Himself
I remember us talking about Christianity once, and
all he did was crack jokes - ones that were no longer funny to
me. He seemed to see God as a joke. He was convinced he was in
perfect control of his own life.
So I come home from camp and find him (and Haley) on
facebook. He didn't surprise me much, but Haley definitely did.
In almost all of her profile pictures, she was wearing nothing
more than a bikini…showing off her curves it appeared. In one,
she was wearing true underwear…in front of the mirror. Now to
you, this may seem perfectly normal, to be wearing almost nothing
in pictures? But hey, it could be just me…I find that a
I'm not trying to be harsh, but that's really the
presence I got from her in those pictures: shallow. In person, I
assumed she was a little more modest…yet I still got the
underlying impression that she was always the "hot" one whileI
was always just the "pretty" one. I have to admit, she did make
me slightly jealous at the time, but then again, when I looked at
those pictures, I felt...bad. She looked like a playboy model!
And based on the comments she got - "Baby I wanna piece o' dat!"
or "I'd love to smack that" - her guy friends perceived her as a
playtoy. Suddenly I saw her in a different light. I got this
strange taste in my throat (and I'm sure I had a strange look on
my face). Every time I talked to her after that, it was like I
viewed her through a different lens.
The same day Nick wrote to me, I looked at his
profile pic, and guess who commented on it: "miss youuuuuu,"
Haley had written. I brushed it off. At this point, it didn't
matter if anything was or wasn't going on between Haley and Nick.
It was when I looked closely at Nick's picture that something
captured my attention.
His eyes. They say your eyes are the windows to your
soul. Well, if that's true, Nick's soul is really tormented. I
see this glimmer, almost like a sparkle, except a sad one. Almost
like he's about to cry. Okay, scratch that. I didn't just say
that. No, as weird as this is, I'm the one about to cry.
I look closer, flipping between pictures. In every picture my
first reaction is a satisfied guy (the "cool guy") but then when
I look deeper, something is missing. I'm thinking it's all a
façade. A façade for himself. He's playing cool to cover up his
Wow. Did I really just get all that from staring at a
picture on Facebook?? I could be wrong, but there's a stirring in
my spirit, telling me I'm right. Immediately I feel
this…compassion pouring out of my heart. For both Haley and Nick.
I want to help them. The problem is, if I try, they
probably won't want to hear it. They'll probably think I'm
judgmental and close-minded and refuse to listen to me. Actually,
the real problem is, I couldn't even begin to bring up the
subject (did I mention I hate confrontation?).
And I don't think I want to. If I ever do run into
them someday, I can only hope they feel a different kind of
presence emanating from my direction. Maybe, without words, I can
help them. Maybe, I can help someone else -perhaps even a
Things don't have to be so dismal after all. I get it
now. The point of my dad's little speech wasn't to tell me to
analyze the presence of others and try to fix all their problems.
He really wanted me to look inward, to fix my own problems, so
that I can in turn influence those around me. Like the Bible
says, we must "first take the plank out of [our] own eye, and
then [we] will see clearly to remove the speck from your
I sit here staring at my pink and green walls, the
thoughts swirling in my head. If I want to change my presence, I
have to let go, stop thinking so much. So I stop, and I let the