I was recently told by my senior pastor that one congregant thought that "they had to take all the initiative to get to know me." While this is hard to hear, and likely a symptom of my introvertedness, it has gotten me thinking about "Getting to know you" as an idea. For example, while i'm make a large effort to get to know my congregants and families that I serve, most of my time is spent knowing you they are. Very little has been sharing of myself, mostly because I want to feel open and able to communicate them as best I can.
Still, this isn't the first time I've wondered about how people "get to know" one another. Sometimes it is a natural affinity for another person and there is a very easy sharing of information, other times it can be forced long before it comes simple. Sometimes getting to know you means knowing your fears, your joys and your hardships...other times it is knowing your hobbies, your interests and your politics. I think people define themselves differently depending on the situation - I know I do.
For example, I work mostly with parents and families. I know that their lives are often defined (not wholly but certainly in part) by the lives of their children. Thus, I try to get to know the child and their interests as much as the parents. But I wonder if my lack of kids in this kid-centered job makes me a suspect. Sometimes I feel I have very little relevant personal information to share with the parents I work with. I don't have a child to wax eloquently about. I certainly want to avoid politics and major church debates. You won't catch me talking about the ordination of homosexuals at church, for example, even though I feel quite strongly about it (It should be allowed by the way!).
Instead, I talk about my husband, my cats, football or other sports, various tv shows from time to time, good books, seminary (in passing). I will share a funny story as it relates, but most of the time I keep personal information on the basic level. But what do people think of as "getting to know me." I feel as though I am open with most of this information, and while I certainly spend more time getting to know the families I serve I don't think I hold back.
So what does it mean to get to know me? Or you? How do you define who you are or introduce yourself to someone new, especially when it isn't a natural connection? I know enough about myself to know that I'm diverse and complex. In many ways I'm a chameleon, fitting into a variety of situations and being able to converse (hopefully intelligently) about almost anything. But given a fully blank canvas I have a hard time defining it. I know a few words I would pick, but the full definition elludes me.
Does anyone else feel this way? I'm pleased I'm not easily defined but in trying to learn how best to share who I am with the congregation (even after almost 3 year here) I'm feeling confused. I'd love to know your thoughts. What does it take to get to know someone? How do you share who you are with others? Or if you know me well enough, who do you think I am?