“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We Were Going To Make Friends With People Whether They Liked It Or Not

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.


Amy said...

Excellent word! Yes! I totally agree...I love the "we were going to make friends with people whether they liked it or not". Too often we want people to come to us, to look for us, to think of us, to embrace us like family right off the bat. But the key is not to lay our expectations on others, but to just jump in, hang in, and stay in. The friends will come. The relationships and connections will all come, but sometimes they take time.

Carissa said...

What a testimony, too, of how far our church has come. When we came in 2007, we decided to stay because the people were so friendly and we found it really easy to get involved right away. Honestly, the style of church as it was 2.5 years ago was really not what we wanted or were looking for...but it was friendly people and a place where we felt like we could plug in and be used that drew us and got us to stay.

Teri said...

Sister Sheri~ WOW! I completely relate to this post. My husband is in the military and since we move so often, I experience the feelings you describe. I love your attitude and you saying, "we didn't wait for the church to come and embrace us and love us... we went to them." Reminds me of that saying, "In order to have a friend, you need to be a friend".

Also, thanks for the blog visit and comment! I'm wss born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest(from White Salmon WA/ my hubby from Hood River, OR)~ family still in WA/OR.

I DO hope to meet you during your time in TX! Our Houston Siesta Celebration is going to be such an awesome time!!! Feel free to email me if you want to meet up in Houston (my email is on the roster)

God bless you for safe travels and God's abundant favor over our time with Mama Siesta!

gideonmommasita said...

Your determination shows up in every aspect of you life doesn't it? I must admit my determination wained after two years but I'm not complaining I realize it takes two to tango and sometimes you have to lead in that dance.

Ms.Daisy said...

I can so relate to your post on finding a new church and becoming accepted. I almost left my church after a few months without being acknowledged when an older woman offered me a seat with her at a church barbeque and that was it! I've been attending now for over ten years and have made friends here. I loved it when your husband said, "We're going to make friends...whether they like it or not!"
I always enjoy reading your posts Sheri there is much wisdom here.


Tammy said...

Wish I was going to be in Houston for the Siesta Celebration. Not to be so I am going to be there in spirit with yall. Great post with wonderful thoughts sister.


Laura said...

You have captured my current experience so well in this post. My husband and I are trying to make our way into a new fellowship. It isn't easy. It takes time and effort. You can't build a history with people overnight. But we are determined because we know firsthand the joy of being in fellowship with other believers who love and care about you...yes, and notice when you aren't there! Thanks for this wonderful reminder!

Patti said...

SO excited for your Houston trip!!!! :) What a great testimony of an "Anonymous" season in your life. I am SO happy that you stuck with it and became so involved. You are a blessing to me and SO many others!!

Leila said...

Sheri...reading about your first days in Portland brought back memories of 12 years ago, when we found ourselves in Portland with a job change. It was only a couple of weeks after our move when the Burchett's invited us to their church. I will never forget the first time we went. I came home and vowed that it would not be "my" church. My idea of a church family was a small, intimate group of humble folks who didn't really care what they wore, and felt open enough to fall on their knees during a worship service if that's what they wanted to do. Well, back then, I was pretty sure PCC didn't match my criteria. Needless to stay, 12 years later, we're still there. After crying and throwing my "I'm not going there" fit, Randy calmly said, "I think this is where God wants us". I complied. But I told God that if He wanted us there, He would have to change my heart. And, over time He did. When I look back over our time there, I can see why God wanted us there in the first place. A lot of really exciting things have taken place over the years. I'm so glad my husband listened to God and not me.