The French, vulnerability and chocolate mousse

When I went on a trip to France last year, we went to a tiny little Norman restaurant (not Norman as in Norman, OK – Norman as in Normandy, France) and sat in between two totally opposite couples on dates.

I don’t think I would have noticed this if the tables hadn’t been literally three feet apart. Apparently real estate in Paris is a precious commodity, so they crammed as many seats in there as possible. It was awkward because I bumped elbows with the French guy next to me a few times.

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My elbow-bumping buddy didn’t really notice though because he sat across from a woman with whom he was completely in love. They held hands across the table, looked into each others’ eyes and could barely stop talking long enough to order.

But on my right, a woman in a pretty dress talked animatedly to a man was stared into space and texted under the table the entire meal. The differences between the two couples were so stark, it was funny, and we laughed about it like the obnoxious Americans we were. Hopefully none of them spoke English.

That incident sticks in my mind, and not just because I ate the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had in my life there.

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(This is the mousse, post-eating. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture before because I’m not a good Instagrammer, and I don’t typically take pictures of my food, so all I have is a glass I literally scraped clean with that spoon. I didn’t realize it was such a momentous occasion until it was gone.)

I can picture the yellow candles flickering across the woman’s face while she tried desperately to talk to someone who didn’t care about her because it was such a clear picture of how hard relationships are.

It’s easier not to look someone in the eye when you’re talking to them. It’s easier for a guy to text the girl he likes than talk to her face to face. It’s so much easier and more comfortable to stay on the surface. Being real and vulnerable with people is hard, and we like to avoid it and keep people from seeing who we really are.

I think God has something else in mind for his people, though. Jesus never hid anything from his disciples. He cried in front of them when Lazarus died and told them he was grieved to the point of death at Gethsemane. He was God himself, and he didn’t feel the need to put on a front like he was perfectly happy and good all the time because he was human, and being a human is hard. He shared real life with everyone when it was good and when it was hard.

It’s hard for me to be vulnerable with my friends and family, but it’s always worth it. Problems don’t seem as terrible when you share them, and happiness is magnified every time you tell someone else.

So next time we’re tempted to text someone else when we’re with friends or family, hide behind our laptop screen at the coffee shop with or just change the subject before the conversation gets too uncomfortable, let’s not.

Because nobody wants to be the rude French guy texting under the table.

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