02 March 2009

differences and becoming closer

i recently went on retreat with Spe Gedauntes, the inner circle of Oudezijds 100. and it was good to be together, to get to know each other better and to get to talk more about our perspectives of the community.

as a tochtgenoot (companion) in Oudezijds 100, i am a little bit a part of the inner circle of Oudezijds 100. i have more responsibilities here and more understanding of what goes on, but i am also closed off from many of the responsibilities and decisions over how things should be here. and that fits with how i have made a temporary, limited commitment to Oudezijds 100 but have not made a long-term commitment to community living and working for the good of this community. but it still feels strange to be somewhat a part of and yet not part of Spe Gedauntes.

it is hard to know one's place and where one fits when one's place is somewhat flexible. at times, i question how much i should push to become more a part of carrying the responsibilities or concerns. i sometimes feel that my voice and gifts are not being heard or being used - and i could help! when i feel that i am being closed off from the inner circle, i see it as people being against me without also seeing that in some ways i am not qualified or called to carry the responsibilities, and that this being closed off can be a gift - to have time and energy for other things (like learning dutch) and other ways of serving (like developing relationships and/or doing Bible studies). a blog entry in august mentions already my struggle with this.

and i think being different makes it easier to feel closed out. for me, culture and language differences make it so that i don't always feel a part of things. and even though i know people are willing to help me (and do reach out to see if a translation would be helpful), i still feel a bit out of things. i'm not the same as everyone there - and thus i sometimes feel like i don't really belong. but then i am forgetting that "everyone" is hardly the same. my perspective gets all out of whack. and i forget to laugh about how we all don't really fit. we all have different personalities and backgrounds and experiences and sense of boundaries and understanding of how things should be. if we were all the same, how would that really be a community?

i saw in the weekend how i myself sometimes closed myself off as did others - with the hope, i think, of being able to participate more fully and get a better perspective. but how much is healthy to close myself off - when does my absence and lack of participation affect (negatively) the whole group?

the year theme is "closer." and i feel that i am becoming closer to the others here - and learning more and more the challenges involved in a community where people are different and yet still a close community. the best part, though, is that we get to walk together in these challenges - and i think that's what i was most thankful for in the retreat - being able to walk alongside Spe Gedauntes, sometimes beside her/them and sometimes in the midst.


Sarah Weichhand said...

Wow. This post couldn't have more similarities and common threads to my current situation though coming from a complete stranger! How funny! I am in a very similar situation. I am one of Brooke Seller's friends and saw your link on her site. I used to live in Amsterdam also, so I thought I would check out your page! I am having a lot of the exact same thoughts being out here in LA. Such a time of transition and not sure if I am fully ready to put in roots! Actually I would love to come out to Amsterdam for a little while. In the past, I haven't had to have a good reason, but recently am looking for a little more focus in my life! What are you doing out there in this community? How long are you out there for? Well, if I end up out that way, I'd love to say hi! Have fun! and I'm sending some prayers your way today! Glad I ran into this blog! Have fun, love deeply, enjoy others, and learn much! (I love to study, too!)

~Sarah Weichhand

Brenda said...

to answer your (Sarah's) questions, i've been here for about 2.5 years. and i don't know how long i'll be staying in Amsterdam and/or the community.

you are more than welcome to come visit and stop by - and if you'd really like to see if this is the sort of place for you, then coming during the summer week at Oudezijds 100 (see a couple of blog entries ago) might be something to consider.

thanks for your comment. and thanks for your prayers!