Christmas 2009 at freckledfarm
I was exhausted. I got off the plane with Anthony and Christopher. And I was dragging. We had given up our seats on our original flight so that we could score an extra set of round-trip tickets. It's worth it because we like to go back to the east coast to see our precious family every year... sometimes twice a year... sometimes more.
But I was walking through the security area... leaving the gate area... and I saw a familiar sight... and felt a familiar tug. There were people lined up waiting anxiously for their loved one to walk through the security area as I just did... and well, I wished someone was waiting for me. Just for a moment. There was this little tug of wanting to be waited for... looked for... feeling special... feeling significant.
But as quickly as the tug came... it went. I remembered that I was with the two people who would anxiously wait for me... and I remembered that it made no sense to have any one waiting there because we had parked our car at the airport.
Christmas 2009 in Hagerstown
But the tug. You know the one. When you walk into a crowded room, and you look for someone to recognize you... and approach you... and be happy to see you. It happens weekly for some of you... just as soon as you enter the doors at church... the tug. No one knows me here... no one knows when I'm not here... no one would miss me if I left... and it hurts.
Oh, I know what you're talking about. When we first moved to Portland, we began to immediately look for a church. Four weeks... four churches... but the fourth church was "the one." We knew it. We knew the Pastor was our pastor and this would be our church. So, we began trying to "get known" by people in our age group. We needed some community because we had no family in Portland... or Oregon... or actually for about 3,000 miles. We both worked out of our home... and had no children at the time. We were desperate for friendship... and our expectations went squarely upon our new church family.
We began to attend church regularly and went on church outings. But somehow... we were invisible. The pain of feeling unwelcome... left out... cut to the core. Weren't Christians supposed to be friendly? Couldn't they see the hurt... the loneliness? I would often cry and beg Anthony to not go to any more outings. It hurt too much. But Anthony would have nothing of my defeatist attitude. This was our church and we were going to make friends with people whether they liked it or not.
Those were painful times. Anonymous times. Times when we grew closer to the Lord... because He was the Only One that seemed to desire our fellowship. Anthony and I grew closer to each other... and became even more determined to become a part of the church... and to reach out to anyone else who was new to the church and felt... well, left out... not part of the "in" crowd.
It has been 15 years since we first attended that church. And you know what? We still do. And we didn't wait for the church to come and embrace us and love us... we went to them. Made ourselves available. Met with different age groups. Got involved. Did it take time? Yup. But it was worth it.
You see, it would be easy to put this all back on the church... and say what they did or didn't do... but the truth is... it was part of God's plan. He allowed us to feel a certain way, so that we would learn something. We would learn how to be welcoming... how to reach out... what it would feel like to be new. And that still hasn't changed. And there are quite a few people out there who are glad we went through our time of being anonymous... because we were there for them when they came into the church for the first time... and we we've passed our passion on to others.
And sometimes... we have to set up our expectations. I happen to be heading to Houston on my own in less then two weeks. And you know what? I'm asking Anthony and Christopher to drop me off at the airport and pick me up. Sometimes it just feels good to have someone waiting for you... even if you have to plan it out ahead of time... and make it happen.
Please see the succeeding post for the rest of the story.