For several weeks now Gary and I have been attending another church. We were invited by a friend and we know a few other people in the congregation. My aunt, uncle, and second cousin also attend there.
It was awkward at first. Everything is different and I was afraid to say or do too much. It’s also a much bigger church. However, as we’ve become more familiar with the people and the order of service, and even the building, I’ve begun to feel a little better. We’ve decided to go to Sunday school and try to meet a few more people. I’m not sure I will ever feel entirely “safe” again. Perhaps I was naïve to have felt that way in our old church. I keep waiting for someone to yell or say something ugly. Honestly, at this point if something like that did happen I’d probably run out the door and never look back. Sad to still feel so “gun shy”.
This experience has certainly given me a renewed understanding of the plight of visitors. After fifteen years in the same church, I had forgotten what it feels like to be “new” and anxious. I had forgotten how nice it is to be greeted and welcomed. I had forgotten how important even the tiniest things can seem- like when someone remembers your name! I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’m settled again and someone else is visiting.
It feels strange to be starting over with a new church family, but it feels good, too. I worship God each day, and thank Him for my blessings, but it is so sweet to feel a bond with others and to gather together in one place. I still feel that bond with some of the people from my old church and I know they are struggling with their own pain and problems. I hope we all begin the new year with a renewed sense of commitment to follow the path God has chosen for us.
I hope that during this wonderful time of celebration you have a church family you can worship with and a place where you feel comfortable and accepted. If you do, cherish it. If you don’t, keep the faith. God has a place for you, too.