When Eric and I married, we attended a church for a few years. For various reasons, it wasn’t the best match for us both as a couple. We then tried a number of churches to find the next church we could call home. We started attending this one church and I was finally getting to where I felt “okay” where we were. Then, one day on the ride home from the church we were attending, Eric said he really wanted to try a different church. A few of our former local clients had spoken so highly of their church, so he wanted to check it out. I’m sure I thought “Well, here we go again!” But, we visited there and loved it. It was such a relief to be on the same page! Eric and I are both really thankful for our local church.
Finding a church we both enjoyed attending on Sunday morning was one battle won, but getting involved was another affair entirely. For about a year, we went to this great church, but we did not take many (read: any) steps to get involved. Then, I saw it in the bulletin. The Women’s Ministry was hosting a Bible Study on marriage. Since I had recently left my full time job to work from home, I had no excuse not to make it.
By nature, I am a fairly shy person in new situations and I despise small talk with my heart and soul. So, the idea of going and sitting in a room with a bunch of women I didn’t know and having to answer handfuls of “getting to know you” questions did not thrill me. When I arrived, I was quickly put to ease by our bright eyed, enthusiastic, and extremely friendly study leader. She was like an amazing kindergarten teacher – the kind who is so engaging and calming that her students forget they miss their mommies.
The study was great. It was about one of my favorite topics and I was impressed with the wisdom I heard from the ladies. Every first and third Thursday morning, I was there; but, as soon as it was over, I would slip out to my car and drive away. The study was great, but I was not connecting with the ladies. It is hard to connect when you get there as it’s starting and leave as soon as you hear, “Amen.” ~smile~
Each week the bubbly leader would remind us that she and some others met at McDonalds after each Bible study, and that any and all of us were welcome to join the fun. Her offer sounded great, but since I didn’t have kids, I felt a little out of place going out with all the moms of the church. So I didn’t take her up on her offer… until she singled me out and asked me if I wanted to join them.
It was so nice to be personally invited. Even though I technically knew everyone could go, it was a blessing to have someone specifically seek me out and imply that she wanted me to join her “party.” So, I went. And then I went again, and again. Before long, I was hanging out with her and her kids on a regular basis, and thoroughly enjoying our talks, afternoons at the pool, and times with other church ladies.
All Good Things…
Then, she dropped a bomb. She told me her husband had been interviewing for a job out of state, and he had been called back for a third interview. Translation: We are probably moving. It almost seemed like a joke. We finally have a great church. I finally have friends at this great church, and the one I hang out with the most is leaving? Really?
As it turned out, her husband did get the job, and they started packing up to move to another adventure. I felt so selfish. It seemed clear that God was directing them to move, but I wanted them to stay just for me. ~smile~ In her “goodbye” card, I told her that there may be another “Heather” in her new town that needs someone to help her come out of her shell too. I wanted to keep her, but I knew God had big plans for them in their new home.
Even though she and the family were not physically there in the months following their move, in a way, she was still with me. She had reached out to me. She had pulled me out of my hiding place and encouraged me to get involved. She had put me at ease and given me the nudge I needed to get out of my comfort zone and start meeting people.
Gratitude and Reaching Out
It’s been almost three years since she left, and I have come to feel so at home in our church. Eric and I officially joined about a year ago, and there is nowhere else in town I would want to go – and I owe a big part of it to a bubbly Bible study leader who singled me out and invited me to McDonalds.
Sometimes the simplest gestures can change someone’s life. If you see someone sitting alone, gather your courage and go say “hello.” Consider inviting him or her to your church or to a community event you will be attending. You may be just the person God uses to crack his or her shell.
We all need people. So find some lonely ones and offer them your time and friendship. You may never know how much it will mean to them!
Do you and your sweetie try to connect with others who seem alone or uninvolved?