I have been attending a new church lately. The people are very friendly when you first come in. At least 5 or 6 people see me and say hello enthusiastically and always with a bright smile on their faces. It was encouraging the first couple of times I went, but now that I have been going there for about 3 months, nothing more has developed. Part of the reason is because I haven’t been able to get there every single Sunday, I’ve missed about 4 in the last 3 months. I understand. Part of the reason is I don’t arrive extra early to just stand around and socialize and sometimes.
I’m not offended by any means because I have a shy personality at first and it’s hard for me to open up in a crowd of people. It has caused me to think, though. This isn’t the only church that I have visited in and attended for a short period of time, waiting for someone to make an effort. I’ve found that it just doesn’t happen. There is no Sunday school at this church, but they do have what they call “small groups” that meet during the week (I suppose) and I have yet to participate in any of them.
I live very far away from this church, mainly because the churches closer to me are filled with people who may know me and have already judged me for what they may have seen in my life, such as my kids, my husband, our business, etc. They are nice people, but when I was attending these churches, they were artificially nice to me, while we were in the church building, but afterwards, during the week, none of them reached out to be my friend. At first, I tried to reach out to some of them, but was quickly turned away (in a polite manner, of course). I learned that unless I had something to give to them, they really had little use for me.
Anyway, this is why I have chosen to seek out a church in a different town, with different people, who don’t know me. I wanted to see if things might be different. This church I have been attending sends a good message. The people really are friendly and the way they all mesh together in a casual way tells me they are not judgmental. Some sport tattoos, some have small children, some are older and some are younger, but they all have smiles for each other. That is a start.
Today, I was sitting in my seat alone and the pastor had just stepped up to start speaking. In front of me, a woman had come in a little late and sat down. She wore torn blue jeans and an orange shirt. Her hair was pulled back from her face but not over done in a fancy way. She wore it like she may have been going to the grocery store. Her tennis shoes were neat, but it looked like she didn’t have any socks on. Of course, she could have had on those footies that don’t even come up to your ankles, but I didn’t look too closely. What struck me about her was that first, she was alone, like me. Secondly, her face had no makeup (again, like me) and she had a worn look on her face, like she was tired from life. I immediately recognized that look as I had seen it in the mirror quite frequently over the last year.
Something told me to touch her on the shoulder and see if she was expecting anyone else to come sit with her. If she said no, I would ask if I could sit with her. Since the pastor was starting his message, it seemed inappropriate to interrupt and so I sat there trying to pay attention to him. I tried to not look at her too often, but she was right in front of me and so I couldn’t help but notice just about every movement she made. The feeling kept nagging me and yet I froze.
Before the pastor finished his message (which was a good one), she got up and walked out. Again, I felt the need to go after her, but still, I waited until the pastor stopped talking. It was about 3 minutes, but finally, he made the announcement for us to get up and take communion. This was my opportunity to go out and try to find her. 3 minutes is a long time. I prayed to God to help me, that if He wanted me to introduce myself to her then I needed His help to find her.
I dropped my offering into the bucket and exited the room. The pastor was right there at the door and I asked him about the woman. He had not seen her naturally, because he had just arrived outside the door himself. I left him and searched the rest of the room hoping to see her orange shirt nearby or heading towards the door. I kind of hoped she had no car and was walking home and maybe I would see her and be able to talk to her. I went outside and walked towards my car. Long story short, I never found her.
I write about this now because I see that I missed my opportunity because I didn’t obey immediately. I now know that I need to look for the next opportunity and stop making excuses to wait before I obey. Perhaps this is what has been happening with people around me who have not spoken to me. I have been waiting for them, but maybe I need to initiate a little more. To step out of my comfort zone and make an idiot of myself in the off chance that the person I speak to needs to hear my friendly voice and know that I’m not being fake with them. It won’t happen to me anymore, I will make sure of it. Will it happen to you?