At the end of every month, I share my favorite comments from that month's posts, and you're invited to do the same and link up below!
Another month has gone by, and it's officially summer! This month's posts stirred up quite a lot of conversation, maybe more than any previous month. A highlight for the blog this month was that my response to Rachel Held Evans and Libby Anne was tweeted out by both of them, bringing a rush of commenters and a handful of new Twitter followers and readers (hello!). Then last month's The Opposite of Empathy post got highlighted over on Slackavist. I also did a guest post on Registered Runaway that generated several wonderful comments.
I started out the month wondering about an unsolved question of adulthood: Do I Pay You? Navigating Friends, Services, and Money.
Emily has had these questions about dog-sitting:
This is something I struggle with too - especially when people watch my dog Bandit while I'm out of town. So far I haven't had to pay for any dog-sitters yet (thankfully, Bandit is VERY well behaved and most of the time my dog-sitters are sad when I DON'T ask them to watch him randomly) but I still feel like I should do something in return. One family, I pick up their kids regularly from school so that's kind of our unofficial deal. My co-worker watches him a lot, but he's like family. Then I have another friend who watches him, and I don't pay her. What I've done is given her gift cards and such when apporpirate. Such as Christmas, it wasn't necessary but I got her a card for Target. When I went to her baby shower this weekend I spent a bit more than I normally would have, etc.
Queen of Carrots attempted to provide some guidelines:
I think it works best to look at it as favors--a relationship works best if everyone is giving something. If its a big, one-time thing, sometimes a formal bartering of services is appropriate. (e.g. we have promised my brother estate planning for moving and constructing a massive climber for our kids.) If it's small, ongoing things like the half-hour-while-running-errands, then having small ongoing nice stuff you do for them is important, whether it's home-cooked food or hosting people often or tutoring or what have you. I think the gift card for the cantor was the right choice--it says thank you but keeps it in the social realm instead of turning it into a business transaction. Cold hard cash tends to be the dividing line.
That said, I'm always paranoid about imposing too much on free babysitters (even family). I like to have a well-paid regular sitter as well, so that I don't have any angst about calling her up even if it winds up being very soon after the last time.
Cathi provided some specific examples of where the line is:
Thinking more about the payment vs favor divide, I think it's easy when you can point to if a service is offered or asked for, and if the mixing of roles (personal vs business) would feel uncomfortable.
I bartend, which never seems like a legit or respected life choice until other people ask me to bartend for private parties. Any time I've been asked, it's been as a business proposition that comes with payment and behavior expectations. Any time I've offered, it's been either a casual thing ("did you know you have all the fixings for a killer sangria? Do you want me to whip one up?") or explicitly as a gift of time and knowledge (for a casual, low budget wedding of a friend).
My best friend and her husband sometimes host nice parties and have considered hiring a bartender, but have never seriously considered me. It would be too uncomfortable to have me work for them (and their friends I've also been social with) in a service capacity, and too much work for me to feel comfortable gifting my services. That's where using your professional friend as a contact/reference comes in as a balance between friendly helpfulness and valuing the work in question.
I linked up with a monthly Christian synchroblog and got some new voices on a post about Everyday Bravery: Overcoming the Fear of Being Wrong.
Paul Meier thinks fear comes from having your faith grounded in the wrong place:
People get fearful when the ground beneath their feet begins to shake. When that ground is the Bible rather than the one the Bible was written to reveal, then they close their ears to anything that might threaten where they place their faith. It takes courage to believe the Word who speaks to your heart, and gives you compassion. When you stand on solid ground, and for me that's Christ, then you can open your ears to anyone.
And Carol Kuniholm was challenged by the post:
Thanks for mentioning Chu's book. It sounds like a valuable book to consider. And thank you for approaching the topic in an interesting way - I'm challenged to pause and rethink my own listening. I know I want to listen well, but you're right, sometimes it's easier to avoid or derail the conversation, or shut down inside rather than really hear what's being said.
I provided A More Helpful Perspective on Diamond Engagement Rings in response to a Business Insider article, and I liked alice's suggestions:
Hear, hear! I'm kind of gobsmacked at the fact that the article glossed over the human rights side of things - it read like a last-minute addition to respond to an editor's note to me. Better than nothing, but rather jarring nonetheless.
I think that there's a lot of room for those of us no longer in the engagement ring market to make a difference - probably the biggest thing is in talking positively about people we know who *didn't* get diamond engagement rings. Folks who put the money towards their honeymoon, mortgage, or who did something symbolic for themselves are all interesting stories that, when shared with unmarried folks, can help normalize the 20% of the population that doesn't get engaged with a diamond. (If you need a real story, feel free to use me - we lived on opposite coasts when we got engaged, so we got each other rings from a street vendor and used the $$ for plane tickets instead. 10 years on, we've still got our cheapie rings and we love them.)
Also, if people are thinking about getting engaged, or when they announce it, you can ask 'oh - are you guys doing rings?' People who are doing the traditional thing don't have to be defensive about it, but it opens up the conversation.
Finally, I wanted to share just an excerpt from a painful but touching comment from Aibird on my Registered Runaway guest post:
Jessica, thank you for writing this. Thank you so much, and thank you RR for giving her this space on your blog. If you can spare a moment and if it's alright, I'd like to share a little snippet of my own story:
To be honest, I left the Catholic Church because of being told over and over again that because I even thought about kissing those of the same sex or even considered a life long partnership, that I couldn't have communion. People kept urging me to confess this in reconciliation, so I can go back to receiving communion. I was told over and over again, by so many different Christians (Catholics and Protestants alike) that they did love me but they just hated my sins, except their words and actions never seemed to be loving. Being yelled at by family members about how being gay is wrong and that I would go to hell if I married someone of the same sex, doesn’t seem loving to me.
Everyone who sought to condemn me, to try to change my mind, to attempt to turn me straight — none of them listened to my story, and often they wouldn't even let me finish my sentences, interrupting me and not allowing me to ever truly explain where I came from and where I stood with God and myself. They were never interested in me as a human being, and that is their downfall I think. You can't love anyone unless you sit down with them and listen to them. Like Christ did with the woman at the well, when he sat down with her and listened to her story, and then gave her something so beautiful that she left with joy in her heart and steps. If you cannot listen to another person’s story, hear and see them as they are, then how can you show love? How can you say you love them and actually mean it?
You, Jessica, showed that you truly love. You listened and when you spoke, you spoke like Christ at the well with that Samaritan woman. Thank you. Hearing how you work hard to help us, to love us as we are, and stand by us in what ways you are able is so heartening and so wonderful to hear. Thank you for that. You are an inspiration, and you are a reminder that there are people out there, people of faith, that are safe to talk with, safe to be myself with, and will still accept me with open arms. Thank you.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and stories with this community. You continue to teach and guide me in a multitude of areas of my life.