Lesson from China: Be Strong. Trust yourself. Trust God. And Be Strong
In the past I have been known for being passive, sometimes a push-over, mellow during most conflicts. I don't like arguing. I don't like pushing my point; I'd rather listen to others'. I don't like interjecting others' conversations; I'd rather be polite and wait even if I need something urgently. (Although, around my family and close friends, these inhibitions usually go out the window. But I'm talking about being passive in public situations here)
Antonyms of Passive: acquiescent, apathetic, asleep, bearing,compliant, cool, docile, enduring, flat, forbearing,going through motions, hands off, idle,indifferent, inert, laid-back*, latent, long-suffering, moony, motionless, nonresistant,nonviolent, patient, phlegmatic, poker-faced,quiescent, quiet, receptive, resigned, sleepy,static, stolid, submissive, tractable, unassertive,unflappable, uninvolved, unresisting, walkingthrough it, yielding
I do not want to be these things!
However, in China, I really had to learn to be strong. If you are passive, you won't get on the bus and you will be late for class. Instead, you have to pick up your skirts and shove yourself ahead of the other Chinese scrambling to squish into the already air-tight packaged bus. If you are passive you will spend WAY too much on everything that you buy. You have to bargain and bargain hard! And if you are passive no one will listen to you. You have to voice yourself to save your butt from getting run over by an absent-minded scooter driver, or stick up for your church, or make it clear that even though your Chinese ain't that great you are still an intelligent human being.
Pre-lesson Regrets: I was bargaining for two shirts and I was not going to go any higher than the price I had already stated. The lady wasn't budging either, and she was getting VERY uptight. (#1 Useful Rule of Bargaining: When its going nowhere, walk away. If they are willing to bend they most certainly will. And if not, you'll know you were definitely asking for too little and you'll have to go up a bit in the next shop.) So I make my move, not really caring if she'd stop me or not, and start walking away telling her I'll just keep on looking. The mad lady then grabs my arm in a tight lock, both her hands on my left forearm. She gets mad at me and bitingly persuading me to buy the shirts at a higher price. I should have yanked my arm away! I should have told her to LET ME GO RIGHT NOW! I should have gotten mad so she'd see how bad of a person she was being. But instead I was passive. I let her control me and I just sat there waiting for her to let me go. Man I hate that I did that! What a limp dead chicken I was!
After wrestling the Chinese in taxi cabs, on subways, buses, buying fruit and clothes, and in speech, I got stronger. First of all, I felt more confident putting myself on the line because I understood the buses, the bargaining, and the people better. Second, I felt more confident in myself as a person because I really am intelligent! I do not deserve to be pushed around. I know I am more capable than that, so I forced myself to be stronger.
Application: Taking the taxi to the airport, no-one knew which terminal to take me to. This was bad, because the terminals are extremely far apart and I'd probably miss my flight to Seattle if I went to the wrong one. The Chinese dad tells the taxi driver to take me to terminal 3 and she heads towards terminal 3. I'm pretty darn sure I need to go to terminal 2. I feel like I should. My ticket looks like I should. But they don't trust me because I'm a little white girl with bad Chinese. However, I persist, and taxi finally takes me to terminal 2. And you know what? I was right! If I would have been passive I would have missed my flight. But instead, I went with my gut and insisted on being heard. And it all turned out well.
I am grateful for this lesson because I think it will be extremely useful in Bulgaria. No way can a sister missionary in Bulgaria be passive and wishy-washy. I need to be strong and confident! I am sure that I will become even worlds stronger serving in Bulgaria. You can just call me Arnold Schwarzenegger. :)