Monday, 17 September 2007

Selfish realizations

It was a weekend of Highs and Lows. High highs. But very low lows.
It was Camp Meeting, which, if you’re a church-goer, you’ll know is one of the highlights of the year. I’m happy to belong to a church that has Camp Meeting at least twice a year. And it’s WONDERFUL!
Camp Meeting means a number of things for me:-
  • Wonderful spiritual refreshment
  • Reunions with friends
  • Awesome worship experiences
  • Great social interaction
  • Yummy food
  • Travelling to fab destinations
  • Usually the guest speaker comes from overseas somewhere (most often USA or Australia) which means I get to hear awesome accents too, and hear about far-flung places, which are two of my fave things.

But remember, I mentioned it was highs and lows for me.
Being with my family again. The best part was that my dad surprised us by arriving unexpectedly on Sunday morning! He had to work on Saturday (he was on call) so he couldn’t leave Durban on Saturday. The sucky part of that was that it was also his birthday on Saturday! Shame – poor man was home alone all day… But boy oh boy, it was AWESOME when he pitched up on Sunday morning. We even threw a mini party for him in celebration! Haha. Yes, ahem, we are “those” people who celebrate everything with food. Good for socials, but baaaad for the waistline!
I was forced to contemplate my character this weekend. How very selfish and petty I am. Strangely enough, I’d never considered myself to be this way. I tell you, it’s not an easy realization either.
Uggghhhh… let me tell you what happened. I wasn’t going to, but it’ll be a challenge sharing this without explaining what happened. So, here goes. Go put on your kettle, make yourself a cuppa, then come and sit back down. This might take a while.
OK, by now you probably know that I’m quite a participator. In most things. I very seldom sit in the wings and do nothing. Which means that I’m often involved in things at camp meeting. I play piano (and LOVE it!) so most camp meetings I’m invited to be one of the musicians, along with the guitarists, etc. and worship leaders. So long story short, many moons ago I was asked to be the accompanying pianist for an old uncle at church (another congregation though) who wanted to sing a special item. Now, I really don’t mind accompanying anyone, even if I don’t necessarily like their style of music. That’s the job of an accompanist. You accompany. When they drag it out, you drag it out. You follow them. You’re not the “star” of the special item. You’re just accompanying. OK, you probably didn’t need that explanation, but oh well. So this uncle sings in a manner that’s VERRRRY hard to accompany. He drags out sections of the song that shouldn’t be dragged, and changes the timing mid-phrase and all sorts of horribly wrong things, musically. Then he has the audacity to look at you while you’re playing as if to make out that it’s YOUR fault if it sounds terrible. Ja well no fine. (That’s South African for “whatever”, by the way.) That’s still ok for me to deal with. I can cope with that. But then don’t apologize publicly for the accompaniment afterwards! Grrrrrr… Which is what he did to me once before. I was so ashamed and angry at the time! Oh well, let sleeping dogs lie and all of that. I put it behind me. And then this uncle wanted to sing again a few months after that incident. I decided at the time that I would bury the hatchet and just forget the previous incident. Give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Be a sucker for punishment the better person, you know? So I agreed and he faxed me about 8 pages of “classical” music at about Grade 8 level, which, if you know anything about music is the highest grade of music you can get prior to a university degree, i.e. dif-fi-cult! Here’s what I did. I took one whole precious day off from work to practice the piece of music to (near) perfection. By the time I arrived at church to play for this uncle I was so excited that I’d managed to get the piece of music ready that I could hardly wait to play! And then the uncle walks up to me (on the day he’s supposed to sing it, nogal!) and offhandedly tells me, “oh, by the way, I won’t need you to play – I’ve found my backtrack for the song” and off he walks. Well! I vowed and declared that I would never even consider accompanying the old guy again. (I really wanted to say “old fart” but that would have been rude!)
So, that’s my history with the old fella. That will help you understand why on Saturday night (at about 22h30) when a very good friend of mine who was involved in the organization of Camp Meeting, came up to me to ask me if I’d do her a HUGE favour and play for the guy the following morning, I flat refused. And then felt like a monster. [I have this annoying weakness in that I just can’t say no. Not to chocolate. Nor cappuccino. Nor to friends. It kills me.] She was obviously in a predicament, and really needed my help, otherwise she wouldn’t have come to me, but I just couldn’t get over forgive this old man who’d messed me around before. And so I made my friend’s life a misery. My stupid decision placed a wedge between me and my friend and I’m so sorry about it now. I could so easily have just said yes, and played for the old guy, gotten over my bitterness and resentment and saved my friend lots of frustration and hurt. In retrospect I wish I had just said yes. Instead I said no. Not once, but when she returned about 45 minutes later to explain that she really was in a predicament, I still refused. Uggghhhh I am so stubborn. And stupid. And fickle. And stupid. I mean, what’s more important, helping a friend out or just being stubborn? And I failed her. I am such a bad friend, people. B.A.D. If you’re my friend now, please remember this warning for future reference. Expect bad things from me. I honestly try my best. Most times. But then sometimes I get a nick in me and I just act stupidly and all high-horsedly and selfishly and stupidly and totally un-FRIEND-ly and stupidly. Like this past weekend.
Anyway, that’s what happened. Granted, it’s not this enormous thing. I understand that. I also know it’s my prerogative to make decisions and then to live with them. The heart of the matter is that my friend needed me and I allowed old resentments to cloud my judgement. I allowed my selfish nature to override my friend’s need. And that’s what was so hard for me to deal with. To have to realize that I am selfish. Horribly selfish. Putting my own “needs” ahead of my friend’s. Ugghhh…
Not fun.
I need some serious help from above. Otherwise this selfish one is doomed.


Kelly said...

Hey, remember we are a work in progress.

Irritable Mother said...

I hear you!
I agree, it isn't fun to realize we aren't perfect. Looking at our faults and failures is never pleasant, but I believe God will work through them to make us the women He wants us to be.
It seems He is using your friends to show you the things He wants to refine in you. For me, He mostly uses my kids. Have you ever been to my website? If not, check this out and click on "If I Didn't Have Kids."