The Tim Hortons wasn’t a strange place for us to meet, with how close it was. That particular location held nostalgia for me. It had been a job for me, almost thirteen years ago now. I told my companion, the pastor, about that. Back then, you could have run the place with two people for an evening. I remembered the evening shifts, how much I’d come to know my partners during those times. Things had changed- the menu had gotten bigger, the condos had come in nearby, likely giving the owners the business they’d anticipated when they’d got that location set up.
It was also the scene of my first heartbreak. I didn’t tell the pastor about that. We’d sat a couple of tables away from where it happened. I didn’t even think of it until after I’d walked out.
He bought my drink, and we sat down, starting into the conversation. It was relaxed initially- I recognized that line of thought from work. Don’t go right into the business. Get comfortable, get natural, without forcing the issue. We talked about life, and joked around. He got into the real reason for our meeting. Again, he was conversational, and laid out the facts logically for what he wanted me to do.
I didn’t understand why he thought of me for this role- not completely. I told him that, then.
I gripped the drink, and stared beyond the pastor for a moment. I heard him speak, and was warmed by it. He was confident, he was sure of me. That was startling, in some ways.
I could talk a good game, and even believe it, sometimes. I was getting better at that. Here, with the pastor; somewhere else, with a client; at home, with the girl.
That was part of growing up, in some ways. Belief, confidence, knowing myself. It was for me. I’ve told the girl that. I might have told the pastor. Sometimes, I even told the clients.
The pastor asked if I had any questions. I didn’t, really. Nothing I could figure out right then. The doubts, they were there, as they always were. Gnawing at me, scratching, never far away. Remembering failures, as I look to move forward, to grow and become confident and into a man who can hold himself like I think a man should.
There are moments when I want to ask them all, though. When the doubts posess my thoughts. Throw it up on a billboard, for any of them to see. Parents. Client. Boss. Girl. Brother. Pastor. Friend.
‘Why?’ I wonder, hidden well beneath smiles and conversation, the normality of the day-to-day. ‘Why are you here? Why do you trust me with this?’
Don’t you see what I see? The smoking wreckage of my failure, my insecurities, the collection of which should be a blinking red light warning anyone with any sense away? My perpetual over thinking torturing my own mind with would-have and should-have and could-haves, working every angle even as I’m in the middle of it, so consumed with doing the right thing that I forget to do something, sometimes?
There are days I can’t see the forest for the trees, my analytical nature poking holes in my own psyche, preferring to find flaws rather than see the good in me that is there. Humbleness to an uncomfortable degree, at points- am I keeping myself honest, or holding myself down? Who knows?
I looked back to him. Had he seen my doubts, manifested in the moment’s silence? How close they were, how much they haunted me, at times?
I smiled. “I appreciate that you believe in me,” I said, honestly, hoping it came across genuine. That’s the downside of being smarmy like I am: No one’s sure that your sentiment is sincere. “It still feels strange. I want to do it, but I’m not sure if I can.”
He grinned, a man who knew what he was talking about. His experience and kindness showed as he spoke. He was wise, and genuine- good traits for a man who ministered to people’s hearts. “I’d be more worried if you were sure you could.”
I took another sip, and chuckled, though I was glad for the affirmation. Maybe he didn’t know the specific doubts that were in my mind, but he knew I had doubts. He knew I struggled. Maybe they all did. Suppose that would be good enough for me.