I’m a follower of Jesus, which means many things, but one being that I regularly go to church. Since moving back to the US, my family and I have been attending a lovely little church with a really kind community.
But if I am honest, I don’t feel like myself there. I have this story that everyone believes differently than me. And if they found out what I really believed, then I would be rejected. They would somehow judge me and tell me to go away.
Of course, this is not a true story. But whether it is true is less important than if I BELIEVE it is true.
Even though I am warmly greeted by the gentleman at the door and smiled at by the lady I sit beside, I tell myself, “It’s only because they don’t KNOW me.” So of course, all shields are up. I smile back briefly but divert my eyes. I keep my arms crossed tightly in front of me the whole service. I dash out the door as quickly as possible whenever dismissed. Interesting, isn’t it. I believe they won’t accept me, but it is I who am doing the rejecting.
That is the true story.
But here is the deal. This isn’t about being a church-go-er. It is about being a human.
When moving to a new community, we are unsure what groups will accept us or reject us. We are on high alert for any sign that they disapprove or that we don’t belong. Because deep down, all we want is connection. And when we are unsure if we will be accepted, it is a very scary thing.
So this Sunday, when I walk into the church, filled with people who are smiling and greeting me warmly, I will sit down in my chair. I will intentionally drop my arms to side… open my hands on my lap… and remind myself, “I am safe. I accept me and I accept them.” And for now, that is a good first step.
In what ways do you support yourself while joining a new community?