After reeding Mary and Marthas story it struck me that it was similar to mine and my wife jans church life. once we had joined our church we both went in differant directions Jan volunteered for everything helping at our mother and toddler group, lunch club, coffee rota you name it Jan would do it. I just wanted to learn it wasnt enough to read the bible i wanted to understand what it all meant. Things havent changed theres so much to learn, its fair to say we threw ourselves into church life.But the way we were welcomed in church was very different. people were very kind and encouraging towards me but Jan wasnt as lucky as me some people were very unkind to her. her willingness to help anyone who needed it was seen as her trying to take over. i cant explain why we recieved such differant treatment it would be nice to hearyour thoughts on this
I feel I can leave a comment here now I have read the passages about Martha and Mary as I gradually catch up on the sessions. 🙂
I'm sorry to hear about Jan's experience.
It's really hard sometimes to break into an established group of volunteers who may be appealing for help. However, when it comes to getting new recruits, the established volunteers struggle to relinquish their hold on what they do or may feel that their position in the team is under threat.
Sadly sometimes we get their identity from the activities we do rather than being a saved child of God made in his image chosen and set apart for him.
On a personal note this last part really helped me through early retirement from nursing at the age of 47. Painful as it was, I knew the Lord still held me and had a plan and a purpose for me.
Hi Chris, that was nice to read how your wife also is involved in the church. My husband mark is interested in football and more football, we are very different in our beliefs and interests. I think I was trying to help and stepped on a ladies toes a few times. I am quite sensitive anyway so the thought of annoying someone really upset me. I felt she was funny on quite a few occasions, which made me feel very uncomfortable, plus she was the wife to a man who is a speaker and one of the main people who are keeping things running in the church.
I have encountered similar situations throughout my life in a number of different situations both at work and outside of work.
Whilst I have always found most people to be receptive, welcoming and supportive, there are those that aren't for whatever reason - and that to me is key here, understanding why people react in a certain way (empathy is something that helps us all greatly in these situations in my experience) - so for example some people just don't like change, and get very anxious about it - so explaining why you are doing something is just as important as the actual act itself.
As another example, a person may see what you are doing as a threat to them - perhaps you are working on something they originally helped create, and think that is may look poorly upon them therefore - again taking time to talk to people, understand what there concerns are and trying to address them early on. Maybe what they are seeking is a way for them to get involved. This one seems to relate to what Jan encountered?
Those are two examples, I'm sure there are more. Think about how we all feel when someone does something without explaining it fully. I know it can be really upsetting and off-putting when this happens - I've experienced some upsets, but it has taught me to be persistent, if I believe it is the right thing to do, guided by my faith, I don't give up....easily anyway!
I'm sorry you had such different experiences, but I doubt it is uncommon, and I hope that as people got to know you and understand it changed.
I can identify with Jan. I'm certainly a 'doer' and a 'joiner'. I've had to learn to temper my enthusiasm, and step back sometimes, and try not to try too hard. I've moved a lot in my life and had to get involved in things to make friends and connections, but it's not always been easy. In general, people don't like change, and can feel easily threatened by something or someone new, although they may not realise it. As a 'newby', most established groups of people will want you to 'join' on their terms...I've certainly found that to be true in my current church. I also wonder if some people don't really want to share or relinquish tasks they enjoy and think of as theirs. Could they feel it diminishes their own value and purpose in some way? Perhaps you were met differently because you were looking to learn with and from others. You were asking others to help you, reinforcing their sense of purpose in the church. These are just my thoughts, based on my experiences and reflection.
Such a shame the treatment Jan experienced, I hope it hasn't put her off church. Lots to think about with Mary and Martha both being good example of being a disciple yet in very different ways.