I have something that has been on my mind for a few weeks, and I have been debating with myself whether or not to write anything about this subject. This week it has been especially heavy on my mind. I’ve decided that the best way to get it out of my head is to purge it through my keyboard. After all, isn’t that why A Tale Of A T-Rex was born?
I want to start off by saying that I love my church. In the past year my church has helped me grow in my relationship with Christ more than any church had in the preceding 37 years of my life. I knew that I had found my church home the first time I walked through the doors. With it’s contemporary music, dedication to being the hands and feet of Christ, the pastor’s real-world style of preaching, and the acceptance of people that would be looked down on at traditional churches . . . I no longer felt like a trapezoid trying to fit into a round hole at church. Yet, over the last few weeks . . . maybe it’s not the people at church. Maybe it’s something in me. I no longer feel that same welcoming atmosphere. There are a few people that I genuinely look forward to seeing each Sunday morning, but most of the time lately I am back to feeling like that same old trapezoid.
I have always been a fairly insular person. I am just as happy being alone as I am being with people in a social setting. As a matter of fact sometimes I prefer to be alone. I need quiet time to recharge, especially after being in a social setting. Yes, I have tendencies toward introversion. Because of those introverted tendencies I have a difficult time starting new relationships. I have people that I would truly call friends, and those few people I consider to be very close friends. But after a little more than a year at my church most of the people there probably couldn’t even tell you anything about me other than I sometimes wear pink sparkly shoes to church. That’s sad, but I don’t know what’s sadder, that they haven’t reached out to try to include me in their lives, or that I haven’t reached out to them. They are keeping me at arms length just as much as I am doing the same to them.
I recently tried to step out of my comfort zone and went to church one weeknight for a meeting of a women’s group. When I got there I was looked at like I was a bug, and one woman actually spoke to me as if I was not welcome there. I was cutting gift-style ribbon for a project we were doing and she tossed a length of it back at me and very curtly informed me that the particular length of ribbon was unusable, as if I were hired help. It hurt. It reinforced my belief that me reaching out in friendship to those people would be as welcome as the plague.
I am currently taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class through my church. My class meets on Wednesday nights, and this past Wednesday not one person spoke to me while I was there. The son of one of the other class attendees was talking to me, and we were playing together with his cars, but his mom was trying to get him to leave me alone, and make him sit next to her. It made me feel very small, like she thought something was wrong with me.
Most of the people at my church have known each other forever. They grew up together, went to school together, work together. I am a complete outsider. I am not originally from Kentucky. I don’t even live in the county where the church is and most its attendees are from. Our pastor is always stressing how much we need to welcome new people to our church, but after the “new” wears off then what? New people get a handshake, a warm smile, maybe even a we’re-glad-your-here-hug, but after a few Sundays the “new” people are shoved aside for the comfort of the established relationships already formed in the church. Yes, it’s that evil and much dreaded work . . . clique.
I am determined not to let these feeling (of insecurity?) drive me to leave the church. I love it there, but I feel like I am missing an important aspect of the church family . . . the church family itself. Instead I feel like the weirdo that crashed the family reunion and stole the last hotdog. I don’t know how to breach that barrier between them and me, and it’s frustrating. My pastor is always talking about the people within the church “doing life together,” but most of the time I am invisible inside those four walls to everyone except God himself. How do I process and deal with that?
Until next time . . .