Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Personality and Culture Collide

Day 3 of Week 1.

The past couple of days have been a bit of a drag. Sunday was the first full day the team was here and I felt really good. I surprised myself by how social and joyful I was the whole day. On Monday, the something clicked and my attitude changed.

I've been really tired the past couple mornings. And not social at all. Which is normal for me. If you've ever been around me before 11am I'm not a very fun person to be around. It takes a few hours for me to wake up. But that's just not ok here. One because I have to work with teams and I can't just tune them out until noon. That's been ok in positions I've had before now. People adapted to my behaviors instead of me adapting to my surrounding. It's also not ok for me to tune everyone out in the mornings because that's just not ok in Mexican culture. Here, if you're not involved in the conversation and have a smile on your face, they think your sad. I've been asked if I'm sad or tired many times by the pastors the past two days. They just can't understand that I'm tired or just don't want to talk.

Tonight, Ricardo (one of the Mexican pastors) said, "Why has your attitude changed? You weren't like this on the first day. Is it something emotional or physical?" I didn't know what to say because I didn't have a reply. This is just me. It's my personality. I like to listen more than I like to talk. I like silence. I like to tune people out. I don't mind sitting by myself. Later his wife came up to me and told me I need to be happy all the time. I told her I probably won't. (Mind the language barrier between all of this so these are pretty interesting conversations!) I told her there's nothing wrong with silence. And I don't want to be fake. I don't want to wear a smile on my face all of the time. I know people like that and they hit me in the wrong spot. I don't like people who are happy all of the time. She said if you have Christ in your heart you should be happy all the time. That I should pray more for a better attitude. Which I totally agree with and I will.

I actually did talk about my mellow personality/attitude with Rick & Tammie and the interns before Dan last Friday. It's something I've been thinking about. Because it takes a lot to rock my boat. I rarely get mad. But also, I rarely get excited. I don't really experience extremes. But I don't really have control over that. Like I said I don't want to be fake. This is what I feel and who I am. I could voice my feelings more. That's a start. But I don't want to do it just to please others. To make myself come off better. That's not what it should be about. But I do think I need to find more joy in my life. And express it. Not just hold it inside. I think where that can start is being grateful in everything. To thank God in all things at all times during the day will help me to remember His prescence and His goodness.

I guess this is just something God is going to work through with me this summer. I will be surprised if my personality changes a whole lot. But I do want it to. I do.

Please pray for me in this. I don't know exactly for what but just pray for me as I work through this. And pray that I would be sensitive to the Mexican culture. One of the pastors apologized to me tonight before he left for saying some harsh things about me always being tired or sad. One thing he said another pastor wouldn't even translate to me. But Ricardo left still seeming frustrated with my attitude. So please pray for me. And please ask me about this in a week or so if you think about it. I know I'll probably forget but I'd like to look back and see if anything changes.

Thanks guys. I love you!


Jennifer said...

hey love! That is definitely tough! I can be the same way, too. No one can ever always be happy all the time, but I understand the overall message here. How's that going for you? Are you blending in okay?

Mae said...

Good post.