Translate

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Graciousness


Last night I went to a women's event. It's a weekly event and I'm hoping to make some new friends. Until now I've been busy with the wedding, and summer usually means a hiatus in many programs. This was the first meeting of a new season. 

I'm not the most outgoing person in the world - I consider myself to be shy. But I've learned to converse with strangers and although I come across as quiet, once you get to know me I can be quite boisterous. I have a sense of humour. I love nothing better than conversations that range from the serious to laughing so hard I cry.

I came home with a heavy heart last night. I know that making friends takes a long time. And I know that people who have friends are often not looking for more. But there was something missing from yesterday's meeting and I've been mulling it over today.

That missing ingredient was graciousness. From the moment I walked in the door there was little to welcome me. I felt like an outsider. No smiles of greeting, just a questioning look and when I said my name at the registration desk, I got, "Oh, we wondered who this person was - no one recognized your name." 

I sat beside a woman at a table and began to converse. I asked her questions, she answered them, but didn't really reciprocate. I found out a lot about her, she found out little about me. When her friend arrived and sat on the other side of me, I was introduced, then ignored while they talked over me about things I knew nothing about.

I tried to enter in when I could. I lingered after the meeting, but no one spoke to me. I left, no one said "goodbye," or "we'll see you next week." 

Graciousness: marked by kindness and warm courtesy, by charm and good taste. 

The most gracious people I've ever met have been from the Southern U.S.A. Perfect strangers engaged me in warm conversation, asking questions not to pry, but to get to know me. They made me feel welcome, not an outsider.

 I'll go again next week and I'm sure that over time, I'll get to know someone. But I don't feel like it. I feel like a pariah, as if there's something defective about me that repulses people. I know that's not true and I'm trying hard not to listen to that voice. But it's hard. Tears are very close. I miss my friends and my familiar groups. And I hope that I, when newcomers appeared, made them feel welcome, not alone. If I didn't, I know how they felt and I promise to do better.

Extend grace to a stranger today. You might just make their day. 

18 comments:

  1. Sounds as if these ladies really need to "hear" this. I know that I heard it and will be very careful of this kind of "greeting." Southerners are so warm and friendly...t'is true! My corner is known for people who are wary and cautious and some have even dared to call Christians here "The Frozen Chosen." Yikes! I wish you well, more importantly, I'm praying for you to find a flesh and blood kindred spirit not far from away.

    ReplyDelete
  2. not far away...
    I really don't know how far from away anything is. :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read this and felt like you read my heart. I feel like this a lot...and I live in Texas! Sure wish you lived a few blocks away and we could meet for coffee. I have a feeling we'd have a lovely conversation. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just moved to a new location and am dealing with a lot of the same things...my heart goes out to you. It is not easy...keep trying though...and if I could I would give you a big hug!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lorrie - I know this isn't "now" but I am really looking forward to meeting you when you come to Athabasca for convocation. I'll give you a tour of the town and since we're all invited to convocation, I hope to be there applauding when you receive your degree. I find people so strange sometimes and your experience last night is what I've experienced on more than one occasion because we moved often. I think that women such as those you "met" last night must be very insecure themselves. I know my aunt and uncle joined a "Newcomers" group when they moved to Victoria and since everyone was in the same boat they met a number of terrific new friends. You are right in suggesting that graciousness is what's needed in our lives. I agree with Vee and hope that soon you'll meet a kindred spirit. She will be lucky to have a person as kind as you for a friend.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This my first time responding to your blog, but you touched a cord with your comments. I've been in your situation several times and your feelings just spoke so loudly to me. Just this morning I too was in a ladies morning group. I know a lot of these women but we were reminded once again as hostesses(or whatever) we were to look out for those women alone and lonely and make them feel welcome and special.
    I would encourage you to go again although you don'y really want to. Thank you for your honesty. Irene

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Lorrie,
    If I could I would reach right into my computer and hug you tight!!
    There is a lump in my throat as I write.
    I'm so sorry that you had to endure the company of these unfriendly people.
    All I can say is that it's their loss for not welcoming a lovely, interesting, kind and friendly lady (YOU)with open arms.
    I've endured the same sort of treatment in similar situations and used to think there was something "wrong" with me.
    A very sweet friend sent this to me just this week,and I want to share it with you & all your visitors.

    Tequila and Salt.

    This should probably be taped
    to your bathroom mirror
    where one could read it every day..
    You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.
    1. There are at least two people in this world
    that you would die for.

    2. At least 15 people in this world
    love you in some way.

    3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
    4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone,even if they don't like you.

    5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
    6. You mean the world to someone.

    7. You are special and unique.

    8. Someone that you don't even know exists,loves you.

    9. When you make the biggest mistake ever,something good comes from it.

    10. When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.

    11. Always remember the compliments you received..Forget about the rude remarks.

    And always remember...

    when life hands you Lemons,

    ask for Tequila and Salt and call me over!

    Good friends are like stars.........

    You don't always see them,
    But you know they are always there..
    "Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though
    Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway"

    Happiness keeps You Sweet,
    Trials keep You Strong,
    Sorrows keep You Human,
    Failures keeps You Humble,
    Success keeps You Glowing,
    But Only
    God keeps You Going.
    Your pal,
    Maggie

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm so sorry, Lorrie. Our personalities sound very similar and I've been in situtations like yours before, so I know exactly how you are feeling. Good for you for wanting to go back though. That is something I would have had a hard time doing. I'm sure you will be making friends within this group, before you know it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That must have been so hard Lorrie. I'm sure you would be a lovely person to converse with. Actualy the older I get, the more I realise that it is my christian friends and acquaintances who are the most pro active in welcoming.

    Magazine swap...how nice that we are partners!I will be back next Wed at home so will e mail you then.

    ReplyDelete
  11. To read this makes me so sad! I can't even imagine starting over in a new community...and making new friends...since I have never 'started over'. Graciousness was most certainly missing! My heart goes out to you...and I will think of you in prayer this next week. I would find it hard to go back...you are brave!

    Thanks for telling us of your experience. It's a message we all need to hear! Are we showing graciousness to those on our pathway?

    ReplyDelete
  12. How very sad for both you and the women who missed out in meeting and getting to know you, You can come visit us in Sointula anytime and be assured of a warm welcome. God bless you day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. HUGS. I'm trying to make friends in a community I've lived in for forty years and it's amazingly difficult. For the past three years, I've joined groups, gone to events, tried this and that, and my social group has increased by one. It's discouraging. Our culture has changed so much. We're too busy for what really matters - relationships - materialistic and self focused. Graciousness, manners, courtesy, hospitality all seem to have gone by the wayside. It's particularily discouraging inside the church where you had hoped for more and different.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This was hard reading Lorrie as sadly it seems this kind of response is so prevelent today. Even in some churches where there are folk hwo have known each other for years and do not see the need to enlarge THEIR circle. I don't think they give a thought to the new person or the lonely person.
    The fast pace and business of life adds to it too I am sure.

    A place where the newcomer is warmly welcomed and invited into the circle is a gift indeed.

    My prayers go out to you Lorrie that God will lead you to such a place.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh, Lorrie - I'm so sorry to hear that the group you found wasn't more welcoming. Good for you for persisting, but know that if this isn't the group, that there will be another. They don't know what they're missing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have lived in several locations throughout my life and have lost more dear ones than most, thereby creating a smaller "family" of support.

    I like you have been in similar situations and have found that people in California "greet" others more quickly, even strangers on the street, much less at a meeting/get together... Graciousness does go a long way for the meeting setting.

    However, I have also found that sometimes, people who greet "too easily" sometimes don't "mean" the greeting. It is as if they say hi, then like your conversation with the lady - they set you aside when someone they know comes along. That can create the hurt feelings just as intensely as not being acknowledged in a new setting.

    I'm finding blogging fascinating, a nice change, as my experience has been that technology inhibits grace and mannors when it comes to texting, etc. People next to you become oblivious to ones presence as soon as the ringtone sounds.... Yet here, everyone seems to be polite and thoughtful of each other.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lorrie, reading this post touched my heart as I, too, have moved to a new location. I've made several "friendly acquaintances" but have yet to make a new "heart friend," particularly one who loves the Lord. And it's been three years. Lots of church activities (works!) but where are those who share their hearts, are vulnerable and transparent with other women? I'm tired of people being cordial and superficial ...
    Cheryl

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Lorrie~
    I am so sorry you had to endure such thoughtless behaviour. It is a shame that you weren't warmly welcomed in to that group. I am very very familiar with the feelings that accompany that experience. As a child we moved about every year so I was always "the new kid"...and kids can be cruel...I never was welcomed into the group and always felt like an outsider. As an adult I have had many similar experiences...and I am not a shy person...quite the opposite. I think it is insecurity and lack of being taught how to be gracious that many women suffer from (which is why I taught my girls to be kind and gracious and that when someone or several someones don't accept them it has nothing to do with them but rather the insecurities of those who didn't extend grace). It is such a shame that it is so prevalent in our society today. It does seem to be more so in the northern tier than the southern tier. I believe the solution is for us to be the example of graciousness even when it isn't reciprocated and when we have the opportunity to do so, educate women and girls on how to be gracious and to be aware of being gracious in such situations. By sharing this on your blog you have made many aware and it is bound to have an impact. As far as your group, I would encourage you to attend a few more times, extending your graciousness and see how you feel after that...if it still feels cold and unwelcoming, move on to another group.
    Do not let this experience rob you of confidence nor discourage you from reaching out again. You are a lovely person, uniquely created by God and He has given you special talents and gifts that He wants you to share!
    Have a beautiful weekend~
    ;-D Kathleen

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting. Each comment is a connection between us. I read each one and will usually visit your blog in return. If you are a no-reply blogger, then I will not be able to respond to you directly. If you have a Google+ blog, I am unable to comment there.