Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fitting In

About six months ago, we left our church. Making such a big change was difficult and only happened as a result of clear direction from God. Deciding on a new church was hard as well. We had to take into consideration our children's needs, our own needs, and of course spiritual direction.

For about five months, we've been at a new church. There are things that we love, and problems that we still have--mainly that there is not a church in our immediate community that fits our needs--so we still have a bit of geographic distance and disconnect. There's always a time of adjustment when you make a change like this.

The first few months are difficult, because it's hard being new--not knowing people, places, procedures. Then you begin to know your way around a bit and form a few superficial connections. This is the place we've been now for the last couple of months. This middle-stage is almost worst than the complete newness of a situation, because I begin to see glimpses of what I need (close relationships and familiarity), and yet it's still out of reach.

That stage is also the hardest to move through. It does require some work and action on my part, otherwise I will just stay there--unhappily. First, I prayed about it. I really was feeling unhappy and hopeless about getting out of that rut. When I prayed, God did comfort me, but also showed me how I could break out of my pity-party by focusing on others. Instead of wondering why no one was being chatty with me, perhaps I should initiate a conversation with someone. God was so faithful to answer those heartfelt cries for help. The next week, someone came in and asked me about my week, and we had very nice talk. Another woman joined in, admitting that she's had a hard time connecting since she moved here recently. That week one of the women issued an invitation to me and my husband for an upcoming weekend. The following Sunday, I had a wonderful conversation with two other ladies in the class.

We accepted the invitation, and had a nice time of fellowship with a few other couples. I have also been praying about where to serve, and God has confirmed that, so I acted on God's confirmation. I have listened to wise counsel, namely my husband's, who encouraged me to join the ladies' Bible study that just started this week. It was a wonderful experience for me.

Amanda's been wanting to jump in as well, so we are trying to encourage her involvement by sacrificing a night at home so that she can participate in the ongoing weekly kids' ministry. She went last night and had a ball. When I was dropping her off, I exchanged friendly greetings with a few acquaintances.

It's not easy, and it's not instant, but that feeling of fitting in is happening.

How have you helped yourself to fit in--to a new church, a new town, or a new group? If you are still floundering, what step can you make to help yourself fit in?


Lori said...

This is really timely Jennifer as we just joined a new church fellowship this past year and are still trying to figure out where we fit in. I too have been praying for fellowship with other couples that we don't know - or want to get to know. This is a tough thing to do - quite a jump in faith.

Fortunately, Perry has fit right in and loves everything he is doing there... he is taking part in a spring choir musical... something I would have never thought he would love!

heather said...

To answer your question: I typically have a hard time fitting in. Most of the time, I feel as if I'm not quite there.
So being at a church now where fitting came as easily as sliding Godiva dark chocolate into my mouth has taken me by surprise. I don't know exactly what it is about this particular community. Maybe it's because I found a group of women who love to read--and read the same books I read. Who knows?

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Great post.

Org Junkie said...

Oh it's so hard to do isn't it and it doesn't come naturally for me either. I've found the best way to get to know new people each week at church is just to sit somewhere new each week. It's been working great!

Beck said...

Oh, this IS timely. I cna't write much about it, but we're having real troubles with the theological direction of our church. Sigh.

L.L. Barkat said...

Definitely a challenging time of transition! I've been at the same church for almost 25 years, so I guess I'm a little spoiled.

Gina Conroy said...

We've been at our church for over and year and will be joining a small group on Sunday nights. We've been in small groups before and made some life long friends that way.

I'm also starting a Women's book club at my church to connect with other ladies who enjoy reading!

Katrina said...

I have to admit that I tend to linger in the middle stage, but that it doesn't bother me. I feel comfortable having casual connections at our church, just little chit-chat conversations, etc... knowing that I have deep and supportive friendships with people who do not go to my church. I do need to be involved, and I push myself to serve, join ministries, etc. And I make sure the kids have lots of opportunities as well.

So glad that you're reaching that point of fitting in! You've been so faithful to work on it.

Kelly said...

Great post. I can always use encouragement in getting outside of my comfort zone. I have to be purposeful.

Wani said...

I think alot of us have a hard time fitting in. And its so hard putting the time and energy into new relationships that it takes for them to develop into real, genuine, concrete relationships instead of superficial acquaintances. But God didn't intend for us to be alone in this life. He made us to be personal beings, relying not just on Him but also on eachother for encouragement and support. Keep up the good work and you'll begin to see the fruit of your labor!