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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Maud Pie”
As the girls learned in today’s episode, some people are just plain “hard to read”. Take Maud Pie, for example, who in the words of Rainbow Dash is a mystery wrapped inside a riddle wrapped inside an igneous (rock). Her quiet way of speaking, lack of enthusiasm, seemingly indifferent reaction to everything, and lukewarm demeanor in regards to all of the favorite things the other girls embraced soon led to alienation and hampered the ability to make friends. And that is fitting. It’s rather hard to find common ground with someone who you can’t seem to connect with, and even when you find something they don’t seem to show it.
I can sympathize with Maud because, frankly, that’s how I am face-to-face in real life. I figure a lot of people might be that way. I’m not the most sociable of people. Unlike most others, I actually have to exert constant effort in a social setting to be the least bit amiable and capable of being interacted with, and yet I still often find myself sitting quietly listening to other people talk about something I can’t join in on even at the best of times. Part of that is due to my interests. I’m almost the only person in the entire family who is a Brony, has any background in biology or computer engineering, and is in to anime and manga. If that wasn’t enough, I’m naturally socially awkward and find myself shying away to be by myself, usually doing something on the computer or playing games, in those situations. Even in Church settings I usually prefer to be off by myself praying somewhere or keeping to myself rather than doing any form of interaction.
The funny part…or sad part, depending on your perspective…is that I actually want to be more social. Now that I have my own place and live alone, I get pretty lonely and fearful that I’ll spend the rest of my life by myself. On one level I would like people to reach out to me and talk to me more, or extend offers to join in. Likewise, I do suggest more opportunities to interact with the few people I do know. But always I’m hampered by the same thing; because I have to make an effort to be sociable, simply being in a social setting is emotionally exhausting. I wear myself out trying to connect to other people and not be selfish. As a result, I usually appear withdrawn or disinterested and frequently excuse myself to be alone for a time.
What stinks about that is that people can get the impression I’d rather be left alone and live like a recluse. And, when I was younger, that might have indeed been true. Because my interests were always different and I wasn’t social, I did often like doing things by myself or maybe only with one other person. Times have changed, however, and as I’ve gotten older and maturer I’m struggling to move to being a more outgoing and sociable person. People who get to know me have told me their first impression was that I was an aloof, uncaring, and disinterested person. It was only when I said certain things or did certain things that caught their attention that they realized there was more to me that I wasn’t able to express normally.
I wonder how many people like me are out there sometimes. I also wonder how many people who have learned to drive off others with open hostility, or who hide behind emotional walls, or who are sardonic or reserved or reclusive feel, deep down inside, the same sort of depression or loneliness I’ve suffered from. Perhaps, like me, they really want to be more connected and outgoing with other people, but are too scared or intimidated by the process of social interaction. Maybe they’ve deluded themselves into thinking they can substitute something else for it, or that they need to constantly excuse themselves to avoid interactions.
The point I’m making is that, similar to this episode, it’s not obvious at times that these people are receptive to acts of goodwill or inclusion right off the bat. It’s not clear that you’re having a positive impact on them or making a difference. And for the Christian, the temptation at that point is to assume that they just aren’t the type of person you can connect to or will be receptive to reaching out or ministering to them. But sometimes these people may need your help more than anyone else.
The Bible has accounts of individuals who didn’t always jump up and do the right thing on the first try but needed additional “prodding”, so to speak. Moses protested five times with God before he finally consented to do his will in leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The Judge Gideon put God to the test three times and received three miracles before he finally rose up to lead Israel to victory over the Midianites. There was Peter in the New Testament, of course, who following the crucifixion resumed his life as a fisherman for a time before becoming the “rock” on which the Church was built, even after having seen everything Jesus had done.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul states: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” This likely originated through the actual process of sowing seed, as ancient Israel agricultural practices often resulted in a lot of sowing with somewhat random expectation for reward (as illustrated in Jesus’ infamous parable about the sower), but here Paul was applying it to those members of the Corinthian Church he was encouraging to make contributions. In essence, the people were to expect to get out only what they were willing to put in.
I think this word can be extended a bit further in light of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:1-9. You don’t know whether or not the “word” you sow will fall on rocky ground, thorny ground, shallow ground, or rich soil; or which of it will grow. Therefore, be persistent and hopeful even when it seems that you’re not quite getting through to someone. Years from now you might find you did a lot more for them than you realize.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for never giving up on me, and also for all the people you have sent into my life who never gave up on me when I was aloof, cold, hostile, or needed a friend even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Please help me to be receptive to others in the same way and never give up ‘sowing my seed’, even in the midst of difficult people or discouragement. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”