Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcoming Others

Sometimes when you move into a new ward (congregation) it seems like there are cliques of people who have been there forever and they're just not looking to accept new applicants at this time. It's hard to feel like you're on the outside or on the fringes of a group, wanting friendship and fellowship but being ignored. We may automatically start judging the groups and thinking that they're snobs, or unfriendly, or even downright rude.
It's not until we've stuck around long enough to have gotten into one of these groups that we realize that many of those people have simply been protecting themselves. The wall they've built isn't to keep people out, it's to protect from the pain of saying goodbye. It's hard to welcome someone, start to get to know them, learn to really love them, and then watch them leave. Some days it's much easier to gather with the group of friends who have been around "forever" and not open yourself up to someone new.
Unfortunately, both sides lose when we do that. Not only do we miss out on the opportunity to be a friend to someone who may need us at that particular point, but we also deprive ourselves of the blessing of having that person in our life. Sometimes the people who will mean the most will be those who are only in our lives for a brief time.
So if you've ever found yourself holding back from getting to know someone new, think about how you would feel if you were in their shoes. Think about how scary and lonely it can be to be the new kid on the block. It doesn't get much easier just because you're a grown-up. Think about how much it's meant to you when someone has met you in a situation like that and has befriended you. Even if you didn't become best friends, I would bet that you still feel gratitude and love for that person.
We can't really let God's light shine through us if we block it off with a wall. Take a chance; welcome others; love even though it might hurt. That's what Jesus would do.


Mama D said...

I've been on all sides of this equation - the one moving in, the one moving out, the one reaching in, the one reaching out.

It is definitely in our best interest to show kindness and care to all those around us. Being "the new kid" really sucks. We never know when we might be the one in that situation, whether it is from a move or just a new phase of life, like going back to school or a new calling or changes in family dynamics or whatever.

The Golden Rule really applies in this situation.

Thanks, Patty, for being willing to learn how to reach outside your comfort zone to welcome others. You are a true friend!

chelle said...

Seriously, I have struggled with this my whole life in the church and it REALLY bothers me. I get so irritated at "Christan" people acting this way, but then I also have to step back in some situations and remember that I am (or have been) kind of stand-offish because I was so painfully shy. Which makes it hard to me, being the shy one, as well and someone trying to befriend a shy person.
I wish I could just get over this and move on. I kind of have developed a who cares attitude, but it only works some times.
Yet another aspect of life that will be a struggle till the end for me. (I think anyways)
Great post, Patty.

Steve and Jamie said...

I try (and often fail) to be open to developing friendships with all people. My problem is that sometimes it is exhausting. Putting myself out there is not easy for me. It is hard to be friends with other people who you don't have much in common. I wish that I could be friends with ALL people. It hurts me to know that there are many people who feel left out. But I don't think that most people are rude on purpose. I think the problem lies in our own laziness.