Every once in a while, when I’m in a conversation with someone at church, I get the funny look – you know the one, where the person is taking a step back with their face, obviously stunned, surprised, or shocked by something you said. The strange thing for me is that these looks often come in response to seemingly innocuous comments that I’ve made. Maybe it’s talking about a movie I enjoyed, or a restaurant we went to. I am then left to attempt to guess what minor offense may have occurred.
With movies, telelvision, etc., I’ve found that when I get a reaction, it’s because the person is either bothered by the content (i.e., the movie is rated R or the show has a character that acts immorally, which is pretty much true of all television these days) or else because they abstain entirely from television, movies, and the like. Jason wrote a post about telelvision a few weeks ago, about how things that aren’t necessarily bad are not always God’s best for us. And I agree, but I don’t believe that I should be prompted to give up my entertainment choices by someone else being surprised at the pastor’s wife indulging. I’m working on making changes as God prompts me to make them, not people (not that God can’t use other people to do this, but in my life it rarely seems to work that way).
Sometimes with talking about frequenting a business, I have to review the conversation in my mind. Did I say something about how I didn’t like the place? Maybe the restaurant I criticized is a favorite of the person I’m talking with. Or perhaps I mentioned it being expensive. That’s one I have run into a few times since we moved here, because our new congregation is on average much more affluent than we are. I found the opposite to be true before we moved. At our last church, if I talked about a great new restaurant, I’d get the “I can’t believe you eat out so much” look.
One day in passing I was talking about Crocs with a couple at church, those ugly, comfortable plastic shoes that seem to be everywhere. I mentioned that I liked them for things like camping and amusement parks, anything outdoors/messy that would be hard on regular shoes, and then said that you can just throw them in the dishwasher. The woman looked horrified, and I realized that she was envisioning my mud-encrusted shoes taking a bath with our forks and glasses. I quickly covered by saying that I wouldn’t wash them with dishes, but she still looked mystified. Ok, maybe that one was weird, and I swear I’ve never actually washed them in the dishwasher, but I remember reading someplace that you could. And I’ve used the dishwasher to clean other things that weren’t necessarily dishes, like plastic baskets and dog dishes. If you think that’s gross, that’s fine, but I just don’t see it as a problem when you run separate loads for these kind of things. If I got panicky about that, I would have to have a second washing machine for rags and towels so I wouldn’t potentially ruin my clothes.
Maybe I take these things too personally. I have a hard time when I’m starting to get to know people and I feel like I’m not making myself understood. I wonder if the thing that person will remember about me is that I spend too much money, or worry too much about money, or watch “bad” movies or can’t keep house properly. First impressions are important but I’ve learned that they aren’t generally accurate. I’ve learned that in my life, but I don’t always know if others have the same ability to re-think their initial reactions.