Monday, April 8, 2013

More than this Monday/Bible in 90 Days Check-In

Hey guys! I have an adoption April post coming up, but I decided instead of trying to cram three things into one post I'd separate them out. It's a good one, the first of the interviews! So come back in a few hours...

As far as the Bible in 90 Days go... I'm caught up! It's day 68 now, so we've only got just over
three weeks left.. and we start the New Testament soon (Wednesday).  Entering the home stretch...

For More than this Monday I've got some thoughts to share. Have you ever wondered why I decided to name this More than this Monday or why I was motivated to start this? I have an ache in me for the 'more than this', for the deep. I think it's probably an aching for heaven, when we'll "know as we are known."  The invisible reality is that, it's reality, and this here is just temporary.

I tend to operate with more of a focus on the deep than most people. I get so fed up when people mistake the necessary for the important. Going to the restroom is necessary, not important. So is showering, doing laundry, cleaning the house, buying groceries, paying bills... all necessary. Not important.

When people put false importance on these things I get impatient with them. Impatience is not a good thing. I am also not saying we can't find important things in these necessary tasks. There can be symbolism in redeeming something by cleaning it. And to be honest, I remember a time in my life when the only time I slowed down enough to pray was in the bathroom.

But when we allow those things to be prioritized above the truly important- friendship, Christian fellowship, giving, spending time with the Lord, investing in others, etc.- I get just exasperated.

And on top of that I also have a weakness. I have two modes of conversing with others: small talk, and deep. I suck at the in between. I will cheerfully smile and greet someone, "How are you? Oh, you went on vacation, how was that?" [awkward pause] "All right, see you next week."

I love hanging out with people who can master that in between level. My best friend Lydia and my mother are the prime examples of people I know who can swing back and forth between all three levels. I also know plenty of people who are only comfortable with the first two (small talk and the in between). And most people society finds rude are uncomfortable with small talk.

Here in India, I'm "too direct" when I try to go beyond small talk. But I suck at that in between stage that is usually the transition. So either I try too hard to make it deep and offend people or I just never get beyond small talk, which may be "polite" but inside I am dying. Because God made me deep and I am aching to connect with people (other than Ryan) on that level.

Last night I apparently tried to hard and Ryan afterwards was telling me I was a bit too intense and talked too much. And I sighed and said, "I came across desperate?"

"That's 'cause I am, Ryan. I know desperation isn't attractive, that's what they're always telling single people and it's true. But I feel desperate, desperate to connect and engage with someone on a deep level." And when I feel that way, it often comes out as talking too much.

I remember so many friendships in America that started with me engaging deeply.... I also remember so many times when I'd try with someone and I'd make them uncomfortable and it wouldn't go anywhere.

My friend Lydia... eccentrically running out on a semi frozen river,
which did make me uncomfortable... until I joined her. :)
And I'm realizing that here in this area of India, people don't go deep. I'm not saying never, but it's more rare than where I lived in South Carolina. Which is funny because you here about India being like spiritual and people slowing down and stuff... but the truth is this is a crazy busy urban area where everyone works and no one has time. So no one wants to spend the time engaging and getting deep. Okay, probably not no one. But it's more rare than in Spartanburg county, South Carolina. Everyone here is too busy to slow down and think. A bit like me back in my "only prayed on the toilet" days.

I'm finding solace in the internet, but that also makes me angry. Because I want to connect and engage here in India, not online. I call people from home and they help me through, but I've read things that say "successful" expats are the ones who rely on the resources in their new country, not from home, and I can see how that works. I would go crazy if I had no link to home, but when I am too USA oriented I get so dissatisfied with life here. And that's not fair, because life back in the US wasn't perfect either.

Since the educated people know English here, but most of the educated people are the ones working so hard, the truth is the only people with time to talk to me are the ones who don't speak English. And even if I immersed myself into full time language study it would be over a year before I could talk about the "deep stuff" in another language, probably more than two years.

This is all generalizations. And I have felt a spark of connection with a few people... but they are all busy.

I've only been here for a bit over four months. It'll take time. But I also know something has to change soon. Ryan realizes this too. He got really sad last night and I was like "What's wrong??"

"My wife's not happy."

Sigh. Again, a bit of a generalization, but there's a lot of truth in it. She's not happy, but she's
enduring. Most good things take time, and I'm hoping I'll be connecting to India soon...

But the truth is I'm mind-numbingly lonely most of the time. And I'm not satisfied with, "How's the weather?" or "How do you like Indian food?" anymore. If I don't connect deeply with someone soon I'm going to go crazy. (Yeah, I probably stink of desperation.)

My Bible Study in America... we always went deep
As far as what God thinks about this... I'm not sure. But you don't see Him in the Bible pretty much ever chiding anyone for making someone uncomfortable by going too deep. You do see him very strongly rebuking people for caring too much about temporal things and fearing man. And pretty much every prophet and apostle and Jesus made people uncomfortable. Now I'm not saying all the ways I do are godly... but I honestly doubt any of it is ungodly.

Back home, developing deep relationships didn't happen everyday... but I maintained the ones I did develop. So by the time I left I had like a dozen deep friends, some of which had moved away, but many of which I could call up and hang out with relative ease.

And it will probably happen here too. Eventually....

NOT that I am saying all friendships have to be deep. I had loving relationships that didn't go all that deep in America. But I had a balance in my life.

Here, I am socially gun shy. There are people here who leap on my back every time I am "rude" (read: make people slightly uncomfortable by trying to go too deep too fast or by being an artist i.e. creatively impulsive) so that I am scared of going beyond small talk...

At the same time I am getting so desperate I feel resentment and anger building up in me to explode against those people. Which would be rude. And I don't want to be actually rude.

But while making everyone comfortable is a great way to be kind, it's also not always possible. It's pretty much like pleasing everyone. Now trapping someone in an uncomfortable position might be rude, the truth is that most of the time if it gets awkward people can just leave...

The same way they do when the small talk runs out...

And at least this way I would have tried enough to connect that I took a chance at creating a relationship.

Except I do know I will hear it. And I am not perfect, and one of these times I will yell at the people who are harping at me about that. How can anyone expect me to maneuver flawlessly through Indian society without letting me test the waters of it with freedom, so I can learn where I can go and where I can't? It doesn't come naturally to anyone, we all learn these things, though some people learn faster than others...

And the truth is, I learned slower than others when it came to similar social skills in America.

My other best friend Tabitha... and a good example of having a
balance. We'd spend a lot of time talking about the everyday, but
we still get to the deep eventually.
But if people would just let me be the weird eccentric that I am they could either love me or shrug me off...

I'm not saying "accept everything about me." I'm saying I'm not perfect, I have a ton I need to learn. I'd love to master Indian social skills and that awesome talk in between small and deep....

But I don't have that under my belt right now.. and maybe I never will.

There's a reason artists commit suicide you know. And no I am not saying I'm suicidal. (Seriously, seriously I'm not even close. I'm not depressed, I'm frustrated and battling bitterness.) But the truth is I have that weird, atypical, never-fits-in-totally artist thing going on and I will probably never "get it."

And if I keep trying I will probably explode.

And in America, a lot of people find me "refreshing." Here in India, not so much, but surely there's someone.. after all, Ryan fell in love with me.. except of course, Ryan is also weird. He cares too much about the necessary but unimportant, he is great at the in between, so he fits in, but he's also super weird and pushes the envelope on the deep talk and embarrasses people and everything... (that's my man...)

But everyone just laughs when he does it.

They look uncomfortable when I do it.


All right, enough rambling.

Now time to here you talk about the deep stuff.

And how are my B90-ers getting along with the reading?


  1. Pam, you need to make getting out of the house your #1 priority. No more excuses about transportation or safety - find a way! Get thee to an expat meet up or a bible study before you lose your mind. It's no wonder that you're not happy - you can't build an entire life inside four walls, you have to get out there. I'm on my 3rd foreign country, so I'm speaking from experience... Also, I know you can't work legally, but what about volunteering? Your native English skills must have a value...

  2. tagging onto expatpumpkin's comment- or join a choir! You come alive when you sing, so go sing! And if you can't find one, make one!


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