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I volunteered at Cub Scout Night Camp and was paired with a fabulous woman named Patty. We had the most fantastic time and agreed to exchange numbers and meet up for coffee. “I have to tell you upfront-I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

I was speechless, mostly because I wasn’t really sure why she felt she had to tell me. She told me with the same tone of voice as she might say “I have to tell you upfront-I am a serial killer.” I was so confused.

“I don’t understand-is there a problem?” I asked. Patty stared at me quizzically. “Well, it’s just that people tend to hesitate pursuing a friendship with me, because of my church.” I responded, “Oh girl, you don’t scare me at all. I’m just glad you’re not a serial killer. You’re not though-right?” Patty burst out laughing and our friendship resumed.

We agreed to meet at the local coffee shop, but Patty cautioned me that her religion did not allow her to drink coffee, but she could have one of the Italian sodas. I could tell from the way Patty shared this information that she was afraid I was going to criticize or make fun of her. Instead I innocently suggested, “Maybe you should pick up a wig and some dark glasses to wear when we meet. That way no one will recognize you and turn you in for allegedly drinking coffee. Maybe even a trench coat too?” Patty did a double take and then started laughing heartedly. “I don’t think that will be necessary, but I appreciate you thinking on your feet like that.”

Patty and her husband adopted five kids from a Native American reservation a few states over, and she had a unique ability to turn most of their misadventures into comedic genius. I found myself laughing nonstop at our frequent coffee shop meetings. Despite our theological beliefs being at opposite ends of the spectrum, we developed a mutual respect of each other and a genuine affection. I can’t remember all the stories Patty told me, but one definitely remained in my memory.

Patty’s church regularly took in clothing and furniture donations from their members for distribution. Someone had donated a mattress and box springs that were deemed unsuitable for distribution, so these were deposited into the church dumpster.

A few days later a couple of police officers knocked on the door of the church office. When the church leader opened the door, the police told him that they were responding to a call from a concerned neighbor. It seems the neighbor saw the discarded mattress and box springs in the dumpster and was concerned the church had been using it for-how do I say this? The neighbor was concerned the church was conducting nonsleeping activities on the bed during church services, which is why there was discarded box springs in the dumpster. The leader was understandably confused, but took the officers to the church sanctuary so they could see for themselves that there was no mattress on the floor. The embarrassed officers thanked the leader for his time and quickly left. Of course the story was told to all the members and Patty gave it as an example of how quickly people jump to conclusions.

Sadly I moved to East Texas and Patty and I lost touch. I enjoyed her friendship immensely and I had hoped at some point to start discussing our theology views. But like so many friendships it didn’t survive long distance.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. I would enjoy hearing them.

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