Sunday, December 5, 2010

No thanks, tuna-surprise.

So, say you go to a potluck. You have your empty plate in hand, eyes appraising the goodies. Of course you have your likes and dislikes, and there are likely to be foods that you'd generally avoid. But then there's that fear that if you don't take a little bit of a certain dish, chances are you'll find yourself seated next to the maker, perhaps hurting their feelings, which is the last thing you'd want.

Lately I've felt like just being 'me' might offend somebody. And that is harder to swallow than even the stuff that I bring to potlucks.

I was actually not-quite-burned-but more-singed the other day while playing with the fire of human interaction. With the best intentions possible, and all in a spirit of progress and teamwork, I unintentionally ruffled feathers and the end result was this; I now really have to psych myself up to walk out of my door and converse with people. I guess I'm fragile in that way, feeling that the worst of all possible tortures is to learn of someone who just does not like me. I'm pretty outgoing but those sheltering walls are there around my heart, just like for anyone else.

I guess if life is a potluck, is it wrong to be picky? Or is it even a question of right and wrong? I'm reminded of a Thomas Jefferson quote: "In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current."

I am now putting aside the metaphors to simply state my perspective.

There are deep-rooted principles of appropriate behavior and virtue that must never be discarded. Call these values what you would like (the golden rule, good verses evil, etc.) but for my purposes, they're gospel truths. Then there are the cultural norms and evolved customs, that sprung from who-knows-where and who-knows-when. Quite frankly I would be happy kicking many of these customs to the curb. And the kind of grumpiness I've been feeling lately might even cause me to stomp on them first.

The other day someone invited me to a church party and then told me that I really needed to "home-make" a dessert if I wanted to come. This person meant well, I know it. And I know that her following statement, "not that you strike me as the type of person who would store buy things" was intended to be a compliment. But that is what I am saying. That a gospel invitation, beginning in love can quickly become worthless when accompanied by the culture of blatant snobbery.

Can I have the pure gospel without the culture? Can I choose the sustaining nourishment for my plate and leave out the green jello with chunks of stuff floating around in it?

I really don't know the answer to this question.

But I do know that it is possible to love the person who brought the food, even if you despise the food itself. And therein lies the practical solution to my pickle, really. In matters of principle (love one another) stand like a rock. In matters of taste (green-bean casserole) swim with the current, or against the current, or just get out of the water.

PS- I know that the pictures have nothing to do with the post. But wouldn't you rather see my new haircut and my lovely boys than pictures of potluck foods?


TheUnSoccerMom said...

I wish I could accept the fact that I tend to alienate people when I really don't mean to, so then I normally wind up not being myself in certain situations. If you find the cure, let me know.

LOVE the new haircut and your family is precious!

Trapper and Suzy said...

Yes, I LOVE your new haircut. It fits you. : )
It's difficult sometimes to ignore things that you know maybe weren't intentional. I've noticed that that's how I start a new grudge against someone, and I need to look past it and let it go. Love the person, be grateful for their intended concern, let the bad stuff roll off my back. Breathe. : )

Trina said...

Your haircut is adorable! The photos are delicious! I love the bit about having the gospel principles without the culture. WELL spoken! It is amazing the things I have in common with you, and you probably don't know who I am. I was in the BYUI 72nd ward with you and Laura, et al, but I was abnormally shy and mostly anti-social due to my own self consciousness and misgivings. THanks for you posts, they help me a lot. I hope you don't mind that I read them.

Natalie said...

So well spoken. You hit a gigantic mormon-lady nail on the head! Be yourself, live the gospel, and give the finger to everything else. That's what I do!

Vashti said...

It is crazy how often what you write hits home for me. I may not always comment, but I read every single one of your posts. The "top of my list" post really hit close to home for me.
I am husbandless for the time being and have often found myself being too proud to accept help. That post was a real wake up call for me and I now graciously accept help whenever it is offered.
Thank you for being so open! And I also really love the new do, so cute!!

Rach said...

love the "mom" hair, its not what you think it looks like, promise.

I think its "sassy hair" not mom hair.

also I had to laugh reading about Mrs. Sassypants and her requests. in all honesty, i miss the coordinating glasses.

Krista said...

Your new haircut is indeed lovely. :)

Thank you for this post. I love reading your blog, because I always feel like I walk away enriched.

A stake presidency member said in our ward not too long ago, "Ask yourself if what you are viewing online an on the television leaves you for better or for worse." At least with your blog, I know I'll always leave for better. And usually entertained, with lots of new thoughts swimming around my head. :)

Elizabeth said...

The new 'do is too cute! I can totally understand where you're coming from, I've had my feelings hurt in very similar situations. We actually just had a lesson yesterday based on a general conference talk titled "Never Leave Him" by Elder Neil L. Andersen. You should read it, I think it is very relevant to your situation. You're fabulous, don't let anybody make you think otherwise!

krf said...

Interesting thoughts. The bit about the home-baked only invite made me smile - I've come across that before. And the new cut is fabulous.

Brieanna said...

Megan, we could be sisters, in mind and spirit. I mean we are sisters, but sometimes I read your posts and think, we could have grown up in the same family. Perhaps that's part of the reason Joe married me. Anyways, I love your haircut!!!!! Short hair has always suited you. In my interpersonal communication class we learned about being a high-self monitor, vs low self, the higher monitor you are the more a person is required to practice all those stupid social nuances. There were a couple times I wanted to throw the text book down and yell "No, I will NOT"!!! I, like you, hate all of the games a person is told to play in order to be socially appropriate. I hope you went to the party with a fabulous home-made desert, not because you had to, but because that's just the type of person you are. I love you and hope you continue to leave the house, I would surely miss you if you decided to stay shut in. You realize when you write these posts, my first inclination is to run right over there and find out what happened, I hate to hear that you're having a poopy time. You will see me this week, but we'll call first, so you can have clothes on when we come by.
You are amazing, hope this comment isn't too long.

Anth said...

This is something I have thought about off and on since I've been an adult. Especially since I had a kid and started staying at home, i.e., got to know the women of my ward. I'm blessed to be in a great ward right now, I really don't think anyone would dream of demanding home-made only (really, that takes some strange chutzpah!). But of course no ward is perfect. I am uncomfortable with the idea of someone not liking me. I am pretty darn likable. But then, I don't like everyone. I think this is part of maturing - to let go of needing to be liked by everyone. Sometimes I succeed at it, sometimes I don't. And sometimes I just choose temporary hermitage!

Glo said...

What I love about you is that you are willing to take a look at yourself and decide what to do differently. I love that you know that you can’t change other’s behavior but that you can determine and change what your reaction to the behavior is. I think that it was Eleanor Roosevelt that said “no one can make you feel inferior, without your permission.” I love that you don’t let others topple your self esteem. It gets a little wobbly, but always rights itself. I think that is a sign of maturity when you have that true self confidence. It is not arrogance, or snobbery to be confident. It is the quiet sense of self that I admire about you. I’m so glad that I know you, and I’m glad to learn from you. So, what are you taking to the party?
PS. I love the hair-

Vicky said...

I was introduced to your blog by my daughter, Shelley. I try to check in on your blog every couple of weeks or so. I love your pictures, your love for your family, your thoughts and you new haircut. Yes, the culture thing is a dilemma. As an older woman in the church now, I find myself often making a comment or two to try to get someone to think of what they just really conveyed. I used to just stay silent. But I worry the culture thing is driving some away and especially people new to the church. I am older, so I think I can get away with a quiet comment or two. Probably need to go sign up with the Red Hat Ladies now!

Angry Carp said...

You are a fine photographer and I commend your thoughtful posts, which I have been reading to my great advantage. My personal approach to the gospel/culture conundrum is to live the gospel and define the culture my way. To love others, using your metaphor, by presenting them with the finest green jello recipe you can bring. Or mango chutney. Or whatever else your soul wants to bring to the table. People like you should realize (I say this in a very gentle mental voice, so please take this as kindness from a stranger) that your great value in a community is your new vision, your new perspective, your creative sense, that makes your perspective fresh, vibrant, and valuable. Don't be afraid to share. And if you find yourself having to bring store bought to the party, bring store bought with style. I once brought the "Pie of Pies" to a church dinner. It was essentially 5 or 6 hostess fruit pies smashed into a pie dish, smothered in vanilla ice cream, and frozen with cherries on top. People thought it was weird. It tasted ok, but I am proudest of the name. If you want to use it, please feel free. My gift to you.

Chasey and Cash said...

I haven't been in the "blogging world" lately and I missed your haircut!! It's SO cute on you! I love it!!

Have a great Christmas!