I went to a church activity (YSA FHE for those in the know) a few nights ago. Frankly, I don’t feel like I get much benefit from them: the spiritual lesson is often bland and superficial, and the company frankly leaves much to be desired.
But I don’t go for me. I go because the company needs me.
This week was, alas, particularly lame. Those in charge had set up a bunch of tables, put a board game on each one, and set us loose. I should mention that this gathering was (unusually) 95% dudes.
But hey. Ridiculous gender ratios actually take the pressure off: forget talking to chicks, and make the best of it. So I sat down with a friend to play Operation. Yep, that one. For the record, I am twenty-eight years old.
As we sat down to play (ironically, of course), the mostly-retarded guy in the congregation wandered over. We told him to play with us, because we’re nice people. Then the insanely shy and socially incompetent guy came over too. We told him to play, he demurred, and we told him to play a bit more forcefully, because we knew he’d otherwise go to his iPad and dammit he needed the social interaction, even if it was playing Operation with three dudes on a Monday night.
(Operation is an OK game if you’re 8. Some pretty bad puns. But there is a bit of thrill of accomplishment from manipulating plastic out of the hollows without touching the sides)
I’m no angel. It’s not like I really enjoyed this. But I forced some enthusiasm,and we played a whole game through, praising them when they did well. And they had fun, and felt included.
I hadn’t had dinner, so I was hungry. I mentioned to my friend that I was going to get some Panda Express immediately after. He said, “Hey, just come over to my place and we’ll go hot tubbing with some friends of mine.” So I did.
Also dudes. But cool dudes, with their own thoughts and opinions on important topics I cared about. We talk, and it’s fun.
I did way more good playing the board game with the weirdos. But I felt way better sitting in a hot tub talking with good peers.
It was similar when I was a missionary. You spend all day on the streets talking to either weirdos or people who think you are a weirdo, and this is when you actually have the chance to do some good. Then every few weeks they gather all the missionaries together and build you up and you remember that you have a calling from God and you feel great, except that no good is done during this time, all the good stuff you did happened when you felt like a fool out there.
You can’t spend all your time playing board games with socially maladjusted people or you’ll either become one of them or kill yourself. But neither can you spend all your time hanging out in a hot tub because if you do then what good are you?
Apply as necessary. And remember the analogy here, because I’ll use it in an upcoming post. Happy New Year.