In the few weeks since we decided to leave our church, we've received several encouraging notes and invitations to lunch or dinner from members of the congregation. And they've meant so much to us. It's made me think back to the times I've been on the other side of the situation. I often assumed that people wouldn't want me to contact them. It might make them feel awkward, I reasoned. They might feel like I'm pushing them to come back. However, from this side, I don't see it like that at all. It's so nice to know people miss us.
I realized that I do this a lot. I assume that everyone else operates differently from me. I have such a hard time initiating plans with acquaintances. Won't they think it's weird that I'm calling them? What if they don't want to spend time with me? But when I think about how I would feel if an acquaintance from school invited me to do something, I realize I wouldn't think it was weird. In fact, I'd be happy.
I've always viewed obedience to the Golden Rule* as not being mean to people or helping people when they ask. And I'm (generally) pretty good (well, not horrible) at those things. But, so often I don't give people the things that I would like to receive from them. I don't make a phone call, extend an invitation, give a gift for no reason, go out of my way to give a compliment. I really want to be better at imagining how I would feel in a certain situation, so I don't have to wait until the tables are turned to know how to respond appropriately.
*This reminded me of a recent funny story.
Darby: (out of nowhere) Do you know the Golden Rule?
Me: Of course. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
D: (barely suppressing a laugh) No...he who has the gold makes the rules.
(cracking up) Have you ever heard that before? It's hilarious.
Me: Uh, yeah. It's a really old joke.
D: (practically crying from laughter) I know, but I just think it's so funny.