Monday, September 12, 2011

Badly Needed: God's Grace

Two people who actually know me [in real life] have stated that they miss reading posts about "me". I think I've been subconsciously hiding behind photography for over a year, so I think I'll give it a shot today.

Warning: some of it is not pretty.

I'm still loving the worship at St. Matthias, despite the fact that our beloved priest was forced to retire early due to his wife's Alzheimer's, and there is one parishioner who openly dislikes me. Recent case in point: last Sunday when I offered to help clean up after a function I had no idea where to start, so as "Mrs. Tortoise" walked by I asked her what task I should do.

She tossed out the following words rather rudely as she scurried by, "Go ask someone in the kitchen; they'll help you."

I wanted to shout in front of everyone, "WHAT DID I DO TO YOU?!" For this was not the first instance I was on the receiving end of her being rude to me or worse, being completely ignored.

Remember Evelyn Couch, the character in Fried Green Tomatoes? The scene in the grocery store parking lot where she's carrying all her bags to the car and a young punk slams into her, knocking all her groceries to the ground? That's what I felt like in the Great Hall of our church, like timid Evelyn Couch whimpering, "Why are you being so mean to me?"

Like the bully in the store parking lot "Mrs. Tortoise" didn't even try to hide her disdain. I felt hurt, angry, and rejected. There she is, politely having discussions with other people, but never once has she introduced herself or even smiled at me. Oh, there was that one time that I forced her to, when I made eye contact and smiled at HER in front of others. She replied with one of those tense, fake've seen 'em; lips stretched straight across in a tight line, eyes completely devoid of friendliness.

She might as well have flipped me off with that pathetic effort.

After I acknowledged the hurt that her cavalier response to my question caused, I became angry. I wanted to go up to her face--which is strikingly similar to a turtle that ate a sour apple--and inform her that she is not being very Christian.

Yes, my turtle comment is blatantly unchristian.

So there it is: my ugly side. I am aware and working very hard to rectify it. I'm a pretty nice person unless you hurt me for no good reason. In my youth I would have said what I thought about her to her face without stopping to think. These days I still have the ugly thoughts, but at least I stop and think about the consequences before I open my mouth. Now that I'm 50, I'm pretty good at the practice, but sometimes I just want to let it would feel so good, wouldn't it? Yeah, for about 5 seconds. :/

After I think of several different ways to confront her, The Lord's Prayer comes to mind (forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us) reminding me that no one is perfect (even though some may think they are just because they are polishing the marble altar down to a glare-inducing shine), and I ask God for grace.

And I try to concentrate on the people who seem to like me.

"Mrs. Tortoise" and people like her really make me want to stay home on Sunday mornings. But the worship at St. Matthias is so beautiful I've decided that one sour apple will not keep me away.

So I continue to ask for God's grace.

It's become a mantra.

Have you ever encountered such a situation in church? If so, how did you handle it? Any advice will be greatly appreciated!


Anonymous said...

Gail, I'm the same way. I've had people treat me that way - I think they're drawn to nice people. Continue to kill her with sweetness (not literally, of course!!)and don't let her know her meanness broke through your shell. In instances like that, I feel God is challenging me on the 'love my neighbor' thing so I pray to be able to love with his love because mine isn't enough!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photo by the way!!!

Pat said...

Ignore her. It's her problem, not yours.

the wild magnolia said...

After numerous times making return comments. I used silence. These situations do not define me.

Good post.

the wild magnolia said...

P.S.: I adore Zinnia.....

lisa said...

I am going to say it straight out Gail...
Plenty of church-going people, do not lead church-going lives! Sad, but true.

I remember a post you did awhile back about someone at work. And if I remember correctly, you simply "killed her with kindness," and things turned around. I may not be remembering correctly, but I think it was something like that.

If it were me? I would simply ask her, "Is there something I did to make you seemingly dislike me so much?". Kind of put the ball in her court.

I absolutely love this photograph. The colors are so beautiful!

Leontien said...

ohhhh everybody can't be nice all the time! it think you did good (it could have gone a LOT worse)

and yes keep praying i am sure that i will help... ;-)

beth said...

never in church, but it's happened.
and i have learned that niceness will make them cringe. the next time you see her, tell her how great her hair looks. or what a fabulous dress she has on....or how the blue in her sweater makes her eyes just sparkle.

believe me, that will shut her up...every time and i bet the next time you're near her, she won't say anything mean to you ever again.

missing moments said...

I simply ignore people like her ... bad energy and who needs that!

A Rosy Note said...

Oh yes, I've had situations like that, but not at church. I think it's best to just be pleasant and avoid her as much as possible.
Tricia :)

Linda R. said...

Yep, I think I have to agree with most of the comments here.. I would just ignore her. I know that is easier said than done.. But if you just keep on praying over it, Maybe it will help. And sometimes just writing it out, Like here on your blog will help how you feel..

Your photo is beautiful..

Rosemary Aubut said...

Just keep on being nice to her! Rude people can't understand this??? It will frustrate her more than being rude to her! Remember she owns her opinion of you, it is her business! Lucky for you, you know better!

Pat said...

I forgot to add that this photo is really beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Not at church, I haven't... that's awful, but KILL HER WITH KINDNESS! Every single time you see her, say hello & smile... you know it'll work.

God bless you for biting your tongue... I have a temper & have no patience for people like that, but momma always said to kill em w/ kindness =)

Michelle Renee said...

Okay...I'll say it. I want to do what you do with your camera!!! Again...beautiful work. I'm loving the pink!

Ahhhh the church lady syndrome. I know exactly what you mean. When I was younger, there was a lady at our church who decided to (s)mother me since I didn't have a mother. She'd single me out and give me "advice" in the most critical way you can imagine. I almost stopped being a Christian because of her. advice, except to kill her with kindness like everyone else said.

Ghost Writer said...


I loved every open and honest word that you wrote. Beautiful!!!!!! I think if people can't deal with the real you, then to heck with them. Remember "Behind the Veil"?

My wife always told our children the following which I always found to be quite refreshing.

" Don't let other people's bad behavior define who you are"

Again, I loved it!!!!


hootnonny said...

Love your enemies; it'll drive them crazy!

Henrietta said...

In Finland we are not very religious people and I don't even belong to church so I wouldn't know, I don't do church. I know people who are religious and act like that and I really hate it, they are just big hypocrites. Big words in His name and so called love but they really are so mean. If they have the right act like that (even they speak name of love!) I have my right to ignore them totally.

septembermom said...

I agree with everyone above. Stay away from all that negative energy. Beautiful you doesn't need that negativity stealing your joy in any way.

Lovely photo.

Kittie Howard said...

I've encountered people like that but never in church. I give some thought to the whys of it all, let another situation or two unfold; it all remains the same, I move on.

You're too nice, Gail, to allow all that negative energy into your life!

zooperson said...

I remember once reading a tiny prayer that helps me get past rebuffs and irritations: "Bless them and change me."