Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to Blogging and Being Ourselves

This weekend I helped out with a memorial service at my church for the father of someone in my small group at church (which is called a Life Group). I didn't know her father at all, and actually know her only slightly, since I am new both to the church and to the Life Group. It was a great privilege to be there though. 

One reason that this was an honor for me was that when my Dad died, there were people at his church (which he was officially a member of at the time of his death but hadn't attended in a long time) who helped out with the funeral and the reception. They were so loving and kind and freed me up to mourn and visit with family. The didn't know me, and they may or may not have even known my Dad. They were a blessing. 

Another reason was that I just enjoy celebrating the life of someone who has passed; each life is special and I get to find out how when I hear stories about their life. In addition, it is a good time to contemplate the meaning of life in general and the significance of death. 

Normally when I attend a social function where women help, they are usually family functions and I hang out with the men. This is because the women are in the kitchen, cooking and preparing things according to their cultural traditions. I am not domestic at all, I eat differently from most people I know, and in such situations I never know what to do. So in order to not feel helpless and useless and lost, I visit with the men and talk--something I do know how to do. I often feel as though the women disapprove and that they judge me, as though I "should" know how to make marshmallow-canned fruit--jello salad or Rice Krispie treats. I "should" at least know how to bake "Duncan Hines" brownies! I do not. 

So when I was invited to help out at the memorial with the other women of my Life Group, I was very hesitant. I am so unconventional, and don't tend to fit in most places in general (especially in a church), so I was unsure about how to respond. I decided to be honest and open, rather than just decline to help. The group members seem to be transparent and real and honest themselves, so even though I'm new to the group, it seemed like the right thing to do. I told M, the leader, about my lack of conventional female-type skills. I told her that I was a "great follower" but that I had to be told exactly what to do (as in micro-steps). In most things, I gravitate strongly towards leadership, but not in areas that are completely foreign to me. Anyway, M was thrilled, as she likes to lead and expressed an interest in breaking things down for me. 

It ended up that I had a great time. M broke things down into ultra-micro-mini steps so that I didn't have to figure anything at all out. It was actually relaxing for me. M had pages of notes and details on what needed to be accomplished; she is a gifted administrator. We talked about this later. Her face lit up as she described how much she liked to organize things and work out details. She loved breaking things down into discrete and easily understandable steps. I really enjoyed the simplicity of following the steps and of knowing what my job was. 

At one point in the memorial when everyone was sitting and listening to a speaker, I went and stood with one of the ushers at the doorway and told him that he could sit down or get some coffee if he liked, and I'd man his position to assist any latecomers. He said no, that standing away from the people was "therapy" for him, as he didn't do too well in big groups. I said "Me, too!" So we stood together saying nothing. It was really nice. 

This was a rare social occasion in which I felt useful and free to just be myself. I could also enjoy the people who were there and the presentation on the life of the deceased. At the end of the memorial service, instead of being exhausted and craving time alone, I was energized and happy. I cannot think of a social occasion before in which this has happened. 

From this I thought about how unique we are all; God made us to work together while yet being ourselves. It was a beautiful time. 

Upcoming Post: Giveaway From Maui: Sign up if you have not yet done so. I really, truly am going to give these lovely earrings away, despite my procrastinating!


Seeking Simplicity said...

Hello Lovely Lady... and glad to see you blog updated. I to recently found a church unlike any other I've attended in the past and I love it. It's a "new thought" church and everyone is so loving it sort of freaked me out at first because that was very foreign to me.

And of course, please enter me in your drawing....

Happy Monday by the way!


kikipotamus said...

I'm so proud of you I almost can't see straight. As I was reading this story, I was half thinking, half praying, "just be honest, just be honest, just be honest." And then that's exactly what you did! And look how it turned out! WOW. This is very encouraging to me, as I am also trying to be more honest in my work and friendships. Isn't it great when a friend is working on the same exact issue and you can support and encourage each other?

I'm so glad you're blogging! I miss you so when you're silent here.

Olivia said...

Hi, Angie, I know it is weird, isn't it, when we expect churches to be NOT loving and are surprised when they are. I know that I was, too! Pretty freaky but good at the same time.

You are already entered in my drawing, my dear, although I don't blame you for not remembering since it was eons ago. I am going to wait several days and then pick...

Blessings and love,

Olivia said...


Ha, ha, yes. Thank you for being proud of me. That feels good to have someone feel that way.

You set an example for me as a fellow introvert, and I've learned so much from you. It was a big wow for me as well.

You know, it's good when it turns out well, but it's good to remember that it's okay when it doesn't. Today I was honest with someone about a project I was doing, partly for them, and they responded poorly, yelling at me and implying that I was incompetent. I was not, and it hurt, but I am still glad that I was honest. Just because they could not appreciate something doesn't mean everything to me anymore. I felt bad for them. Now this is a good reaction too.

It's funny because I had a feeling that I was being berated for no reason. So I said "If you feel this way, then you can pick up the project from here and do it yourself. Then you'll find out how much work I did and how hard it was." Silence. Then I said, "Furthermore if you criticize me again or yell at me again...the project is yours. You can do it yourself. One. More. Word. It's yours." Silence. I will do it too!

Anyway, Kelly, thanks for your example and encouragement to blog. A few others of my friends have been doing so as well, and you have been the most persistent. It did make me feel missed, which was a good thing. I appreciate you so much,

Peace, joy, and assertiveness, O

patti said...

Yay for you Olivia!! I'm happy that you found a church that you feel comfortable being in.

When we are truthful about ourselves, it helps others to understand us, then we can click together like Lego pieces!

Here's to assertiveness - it's like a breath of fresh air!

Welcome back to blogging!! :)

Kate said...

Welcome back Olivia I missed your posts. I loved this whole post, how you explained things and how wonderful it turned out. What a blessing that was.


Olivia said...

Thank you, Patti! Thanks for your encouragement to return to blogging too.

Yes, I did find a church that I can be me in. I forgot that I'd been looking for so long and shared about it here.

That "click" is what I experienced and loved this weekend.

Peace and love to you, Patti,


Olivia said...

Thanks, Kate. It was indeed a blessing. It's good to have them, good to have the peace and silence and time to reflect upon them, and good to be able to share them with others too here.

Blessings and love,


CrystalChick said...

I'm glad this was such a good experience for you. Even though I am very domestic, quite outgoing, and pretty flexible there are still certain functions that I don't seem to quite fit in, one of them being church. So I understand you feeling a little unsure at first. But how wonderful that you and the leader could help each other that way.
Glad you are back to blogging. I'm still hanging out at Facebook but really want to get something going at my blog again soon. I might need to do a giveaway soon to get me motivated! Thanks for the idea. :)

Olivia said...

Thanks, Mary. And you're welcome. Of course I still see your posts on FB but it would be nice to see your blog posts as well. Giveaways are great. It was fun picking out earrings for one person; I'd have liked to pick out a pair for everyone! Blessings and peace, O

Angela said...

That sounds like a lovely experience. Little gifts, eh?

Olivia said...

Indeed, Angela!