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?