I have just been flamed in an email by a woman I know casually, because I am on the board of an organization that, to put it simply, told her, sorry, no. As in, no, the work you are doing won't work for us. (There's an application process; some are accepted and some are not). And I was the spokeswoman for the board, and said no as graciously and kindly as I knew how, AND invited her to resubmit with other work, gave her suggestions as to what we were looking for.
And I have just read an email that made me flush with anxiety and anger. She accuses me of lying to her (I did not). She says over and over she is fine, she is a big girl, but her fury made my hair stand on end.
I thought it was about the work. She seems to have thought it was about her.
This is a common problem for all of us, in every walk of life. Take pastors. We can be told a sermon is too long, too short, not quite right, and absolutely perfect... all at the same coffee hour. That alone should help us not to take things personally. But damn, it is hard sometimes.
There is someone on the governing board of my new congregation who seems depressed. In fact, I would say this man functions like a black hole for the energy in a room: everyone else pours out copious amounts of energy trying to make up for this man's absorbing and disposing of it. (This is a first impression. I am ready and willing to change my mind.) Today someone told me this man doesn't believe women should be pastors.
Oh! That could have something to do with what I'm picking up, if he's sitting there stewing or having an existential crisis over my very existence.
After I heard this I decided to walk a couple of blocks to the post office. It was such a beautiful, balmy day... not many of these left, of course.
As I walked I thought about this man, and wondered whether he is having an existential crisis over the presence of the congregation's first installed female pastor (moi). I wondered if I might be causing him to rethink all that (because of, you know, how I rock and all). Then I wondered if the information I had been given was even true. I am becoming sensitive to the presence of the odd axe.
20 minutes later, my walk over and time for lunch, I decided it's too early in our relationship for any of this. I decided to not let the person who told me this ever do anything like that again. I decided, this time, to try not to take it personally.