Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
We all have our special people. I have them, you have them. Special friends make you feel good. Spending time with them feels comfortable. They “get” you. And they are such an incredible blessing. But that’s for another blog post.
Please don’t misunderstand me. It is a wonderful thing to have those good friends (see Proverbs 17:17 and 18:24). And they are definitely needed.
But what I need to hear more (and perhaps you do too!) is that we need to break out of our clique.
That’s right. You heard me.
Don’t try to talk us out of this. Yes, by seeking out our friends at church, we’re “ministering” to them. We are checking up on how they’re doing and talking about what we’ve been praying about for them. But…
Weren’t we meeting up with that girlfriend for lunch tomorrow? Didn’t we already have dinner plans later this week? Won’t we text this afternoon once the kids are down for their nap?
And by greeting only our friends, don’t we sometimes miss that visitor? We miss that lonely person, just getting up the guts to come over and talk to you–when BAM!–you have already launched into a lively, exclusive conversation with your friend.
Yes, we should definitely be greeting and hugging our friends, but I think that’s easy to do. What’s hard is going up to someone you don’t know. It’s hard to approach a little old lady or a shy teen or a single mom with a herd of kiddos. Maybe they’ve been to church before, or maybe this is the first time in a long time.
And we all know we should be doing more of it. But it’s easy to just say, “That’s not my talent,” or “I’m not so good at that.”
You know what fixes that?
Practice. Patience. A lot of prayer. You’re never going to be “good” at talking to new people until you talk to a new person. You won’t ever know how to introduce yourself until you try it out.
Sound goofy? It’s not. Especially when you are that new person. That visitor. That girl sitting in a pew wondering, “Was this really worth it? Should I really come back to church–to God?”
So here are some things that help me. Maybe they will help you too.
Pray about it
Ask God to grant you the courage to introduce yourself to someone new (maybe a visitor or maybe just someone who needs some encouragement). Ask Him to help you see with His eyes. To send you someone that you can minister to.
Before you go to a worship service, Bible class, or fellowship, think about what your goal is. You don’t have to climb Mount Everest at first (e.g. Today, while dealing with my own three kids, I plan to meet every visitor who came to church today. Um, maybe not!).
Instead, you might think that you will get to know one visitor really well and sit with them. Or if there’s not a visitor, think of someone who might like some encouragement, perhaps a widow or a single person. Perhaps someone who’s been through a recent tragedy or someone who’s just recommitted their life to the Lord.
I’m not always so good at thinking on my feet, especially while chasing after my own little man. Somehow, when I have already decided on meeting or encouraging that person, it’s easier to actually do it when I get there.
Be patient with yourself. You may have a colossal failure and call someone by an entirely wrong name. Or you might mistake them for a visitor when they’ve been attending for months (or years). That’s okay. It’s part of the learning curve. And it will make for a hysterically funny story at lunch (I know from experience!).
Be patient with those you reach out to. Sometimes, they’re painfully shy or sad or withdrawn. Sometimes it feels like you’re pulling teeth trying to get them to tell you anything about themselves. That’s okay too. You’ve done your part–and surprisingly, although you may have felt it didn’t go well, that person might go home and be really encouraged that someone took the time to talk with them.
You may not be super outgoing. Just pick one person to get to know. Focus on that one. Write her a card. Send her texts. Ask how you could pray for her.
Or you may be a social butterfly. Make it your goal to meet and greet visitors. Maybe you could sign up to be a lobby monitor or someone who helps guide people to Bible class. Or talk to your preacher and see if you can be in charge of sending cards to visitors.
Wherever you are personality-wise on that spectrum, don’t give up. Sometimes approaching those we don’t know as well isn’t just for their good. It’s also for ours. It makes us grow and helps us develop a Christ-like heart. It gives us an opportunity to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
So this Sunday, or whenever you meet together with others in service and worship to God, reach out. Break out of that clique. You might discover a new avenue of service. Or you just might have begun a friendship greater than you’d ever expected.
Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
For example, I am an introverted extrovert. Now, I know that doesn’t make much sense, but essentially for me it means that I like to be by myself, except when I don’t. I like to be with people, and I especially like to be included in things that are fun. Now my husband, on the other hand, is what I like to think of as an introverted introvert, meaning that he likes to be around people the bare minimum of acceptable or appropriate time. He recognizes that he must deal with people and be around people at work and other places; however, if socializing is not required, why do it?
You might see how this could create a certain amount of friction in our home. I use the word friction very lightly. For us, it’s not really an issue because we’ve found a middle ground that works most of the time.
However, holidays seem to be the time when these differences can really creep in and cause a disturbance in the home. Take two people with different personalities, backgrounds, and traditions and put them in the same home during holiday time and I can guarantee there will be some discussing that goes on.
The October Challenge
For us, nothing has proven more difficult than agreeing on festivities for the month of October. Call it what you will–Halloween, All Hallows Eve, The Day of the Devil–this day has proven to be a difficult one for our family to find any middle ground. My husband feels very strongly that we should be locked in our home with the lights off, watching movies and pretending that the rest of the world doesn’t exist during this day. For me, I see it as an amazing opportunity to have some serious fun with my kids!
We’ve been at this parenting thing for just over six years, and October 31st requires extensive discussion every single year. Don’t get me wrong, discussion is great. It means that both parties are open to voicing and hearing the other person’s opinion. However, it also means that there is obviously not a clearly defined answer to the question “What are we going to do this year for Halloween?”
Our wonderful church hosts a neat little get-together where the kids can (but aren’t required to) dress up and they get to play carnival games and eat popcorn and get candy and they love it. And I love it. And my husband tolerates it. No scary costumes are allowed and there are no scary elements. Other churches around town host other activities as well. But this always seems to bring up the discussion in our house about whether people in the church should really be participating in this “holiday” at all. That’s a long winding road that I am not going to traverse in this blog. However, it is just another point that comes up each year when we are trying to decide what to do!
But this again brings me to another point: finding a balance which can exist in the home among two different people with different minds, hearts, souls, and backgrounds. Each year we discuss extensively what’s on our hearts regarding this day. Each year we battle with ourselves and sometimes one another. Each year we find agreement and some middle, (or his side, or her side) ground that we rest on. And each year we live to see another year as a family.
God Intends Us to Love
So often small and simple conflicts seem to wedge themselves further between us and our loved ones. And for what? Sometimes it’s our own pride that gets in the way. Sometimes it’s the sting of the other person’s words. Sometimes it’s just plain and simple bitterness. But whatever it is that is driving a wedge between spouses, children and families, it’s not of God. One of the most popular verses from the bible can be applied here.
How those words can sting when we are not practicing them! Love does not insist on its own way. For me I have to really dwell on this verse when there are times of friction between my husband and I. There will always be things to discuss. There are always opportunities for disagreements, whether it be about holiday celebrations or bigger issues in life. The thing I have to remember is that God intends for us to love.
Do you ever find that you and your spouse have one particular thing that you can’t seem to agree on? How have you worked through it?
What scriptures inspire you to love those God has placed in your life?
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