Pig in London and the Lamb in
by Sam Williamson
When I was twenty years old, I wanted to spend
a summer abroad, but as a college student I
could barely afford ramen noodles. I found work
on a communal farm in Israel. For a bit of
manual labor, they provided me food, a room, ten
dollars a month, and a pack of cigarettes a day.
(It was the cigarettes that sold me.)
The weekend before I departed, I heard my first
talk ever on being a man. On the way to Israel, I
stopped in London to visit some friends. With the
talk on manliness ringing in my ear, I swaggered,
spat, and unsuccessfully tried to play the man.
During a two-hour dinner party in London, I was
introduced to a young woman who promptly deemed me
shallow, insincere, and stupid. (I skipped dessert
so I could quit while I was ahead.)
A few years later she married a friend of mine,
but her opinion of me was chiseled in stone. I
once loaned her husband ten thousand dollars; and
she suspected me of manipulation. But if I forgot
to send him a birthday card, she felt my true
colors were revealed.
To her, I was a jerk. And everything I did or said
reinforced her judgment.
She Wasn’t the Only One To
After the dinner party, on the plane to Tel Aviv,
I read this verse: “Even a fool who keeps
silent is considered wise; when he closes his
lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs
17:28). I felt convicted and decided to speak less
and listen more.
The following day I began my first job on the
communal farm, but it began at 4:00 a.m. and I
didn’t have an alarm clock. My roommate promised
to wake me, but he forgot.
I desperately wanted to impress my new boss Amnon,
but the proverb — When he closes his lips, he
is deemed intelligent — was still fresh. I
decided not to blame my roommate. Instead I
apologized without excuse.
The next day, my roommate forgot again, but the
verse still haunted me, so I apologized again.
That evening I had a few hard words with my
roommate (I didn’t keep completely
silent), and he swore he would remember. And then
he forgot. To Amnon, I apologized a third,
agonizing time. I desperately wanted him to know
my circumstances, but I kept my lips closed.
On the fourth night, I “borrowed” my roommate’s
alarm. I was the first to arrive for work. Later
that day, my roommate secretly spoke with Amnon.
He confessed that it was his own negligence that
caused me to be late three days in a row.
A New Opinion
Amnon later searched me out and told me of my
roommate’s confession. He said, “Sam, the
volunteers I work with are shallow, defensive, and
overflowing with creative justifications. You are
my first volunteer ever to apologize without
excuse. I will call you ‘Emet’ [which means
true, genuine, or pure].” From that day forward,
he called me nothing else.
And he thought I could do no wrong. If I was late,
he assumed I had good reason; if I offered an
idea, he thought me a genius; if I suggested a
stupid plan, he applauded my initiative.
For years that women’s snap judgment of me felt
unfair. Why couldn’t she see me as Amnon did?
Today I realized that it is I who had misjudged
I don’t know what shaped her life. Maybe she was
bullied by a schoolyard tyrant or an abusive
father. Maybe I was a faint echo of those past
torments. I don’t know. And that’s the point.
She may be handling her past with greater grace
that I handle mine.
My denigration of her criticism reveals my own
inner fraud. Maybe her judgment is fairer than
Amnon’s. After all, Jesus didn’t die for me
because of my “emet” (purity); the true lamb of
Israel died for that pig in London.
A spiritual man doesn’t swagger or spit. He
simply admits he’s been a jerk.
Sam Williamson has published
numerous articles and has written two books.
has a blog site, www.beliefsoftheheart.com,
and can be reached at
New book by Sam Williamson
God in Conversation: How to Recognize His
Voice Everywhere published by Kregel
available from Amazon
review by Don Schwager
source of pig and lamb (top),