Every time I try to smarten myself up someone makes what I consider to be an inappropriate remark. I have struggled with this through the autumn, this year more than most because it has been suggested that I do need to smarten up.
The great thing about oversized hoodies and baggy jeans is I don’t have to think about my size. It can change quite comfortably a stone up or down and I don’t need to think about it. I have given my weighing scales away, addressed my eating or non-eating issues and I am comfortable with the whole thing until…
Someone says something.
And then it begins. It is not really about what they say, it is about me and my reaction to the comments. I don’t want my clothes to be a barrier to people but equally I don’t want it to be about the clothes.
A really good friend of mine and I went to various charity shops to work out what would be smart without being sexy for me. One of the first things I tried on was a worsted wool skirt suit. It was like a child playing dress up, it was not for me. So then I tried on every skirt in the shop in my size range and they looked horrible or I did or some kind of combination.
In doing it though I discovered I still have some mirror work to do. Sometimes I still feel like I want to be invisible to the entire world. I know that is not THE PLAN, but when people make remarks about clothes it is not about clothes to me.
When I preach I am vulnerable, with no hiding, it is I who have to speak for ten or so minutes in an engaging way that doesn’t put people to sleep but allows God’s message be delivered appropriately.
Yesterday I wore my attempt at smartening myself up to preach in and then ignored the clothes. Because for me they are not important. My usual commentator said nothing. Progress. So maybe I made it, smart-ish and not sexy.
But I offended someone yesterday and now I just feel so bad. Actually I potentially offended five people. I know that the first two have accepted my apology for swearing, the second two have accepted my apology for being really late. The last one though, the offense is going to be there.
Reflecting on this, I realise that people now see as I am the person who preaches, they don’t see the person who worries about people commentating about dress. People who only know me now see, for the most part (without the occasional return to default like on Friday night) see someone confident, comfortable in their skin, who chats away to whoever.
“Look at you” someone said last week “Are you the same person who didn’t open their mouth at …”
But people who only know me now, don’t get that back story, they just see me smiling, chatting and making mistakes, upsetting people without realising it, offending people when no offense was intended. Blundering into situations like a bull I suppose.
So feeling really bad for offending someone and although there is nothing I can do about that one offense because to apologise would probably inflame the situation. But going forward how do I address it and what does it make me immediately think of doing?
Jacking it all in (again) no that is what the “me” wants to do. If I don’t do anything I can’t offend can I?
Talk about the weather. Weather talking is non offensive and maybe some people need just weather talking. I know I am very good at it for my perspective, sometimes I don’t want to get past the weather. But that is not what I am called to do.
Carry on regardless, I don’t think that is appropriate either, I have to learn to pick up on visual, verbal and non verbal cues as to when to only weather speak and when to relax into normal conversation but remembering to avoid glib remarks that may cause offense.
We never know where people are at. I think even saying that I am past child bearing days hurts people who can’t have kids and I know cos it bloody hurts me every time I think it. It has taken me years to be able to hold a newborn baby, cos I immediately think of all the babies I never had and desperately wanted. But medical advice is medical advice.
Anyway I will aim for balance, and try to work out what that is.
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