04 November, 2014

I'm invisible

Conversations with Australians sometimes make me feel invisible. Does that ever happen to you?
Or maybe a martian is a
better way to think
of me. People seem to have
trouble relating their
experiences to mine?

For example, this situation: 

I know the people I'm in a group with are aware I'm a missionary and have spent many years overseas, separated from family. Then the conversation progresses something like this*:

Belinda: I hate being away from my family. I remember the time I went to a conference in America, I was gone for ten days, it was horrible.
Rhea: Yeah, I know what you mean. It doesn't improve when your kids get older either.

I was standing right there and wanted to remind them that we've spent years apart from our families, but I didn't.


Tina: Gee it's tough right now, Mum isn't around at the moment to look after the kids.

And yes, I've raised my children without the benefit of having free babysitting by their grandparents.

Other examples I can think of are: 
  • grumbling about food choices, when there is so much choice available compared to what I usually have,
  • others in ministry in Australia pointing out how they're on a low income as if I wouldn't know the implications of that.
Maybe I'm unrealistic in my expectations of others. I'm most certainly selfish. But sometimes it feels as if I'm invisible.

*Names are fictional.


Ken Rolph said...

You imagine that people take others into account before they speak. But "It's All About Me", as the advertising says.

Jamie Matsuoka said...

Wendy, I know all about this!
Fundamentally, people ARE selfish.
But also, I think cross-cultural experience and further, experience in Japan provides many opportunities for imagining how others feel and adjusting one's comments accordingly.

Sarah said...

I think some people just want to relate to others, so they draw on their own experiences trying to find similarities. Except, sometimes, there aren't any.

And some women just think suffering is a kind of competition, that NO-ONE could possibly have suffered as much as them. Last year I had someone (who is in good health) claiming to me just after I'd come out of hospital with PND that her life was much harder because she had two kids and I only had one.

Wendy said...

On my FB link to this article another friend wrote this telling comment:

Your blog is called "on the edge of ordinary", the problem many people invest a great deal into their version of ordinary and I think secretly are threatened when something beyond the usual paradigm intrudes. For example, a conversation I had once with a woman I will call Jan.

Jan: Why does the Army make people do a high wire confidence course?

Me: we do that to familiarise them with the feeling of fear, and to push them beyond the imaginary comfort zone they have established for themselves.

Jan: Why on earth would you want to do that?

Me: sigh

Or, another thing I have noticed is that people are very often completely uninterested in life or ministry beyond the four walls of their own daily life. Uninterested in fact to the point of wilful ignorance.

Wendy said...

Ken, quite true!
Jamie, indeed. Selfish, we all are. I do think that our cross-cultural lives train us to look at other people's perspectives. Tertiary education also does this, to some degree.
Sarah, that second part of your comment is very sad, but true, nonetheless. Somehow it is a strategy we use to make ourselves feel better?

Rachel said...

It can even happen locally - I felt it when I moved from rural Qld to City Qld. Dare I mention it can happen on entering a church that's different from your own. Won't heaven be an education - when we're all so enamoured by Christ as King that our differences won't even be a blip on the radar. A good challenge to consider where our focus is here and now!