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. Later.”
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 and money.
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 little…shallow.
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 emptiness.
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 stranger.
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 brother’s eyes.”
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 tears fall.
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