Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Finding My Place

I spent most of my teen years feeling not quite a part of anything while telling myself that I liked it that way. I liked to delude myself by thinking that I was a loner by choice, but really I always longed for a close knit group to be a part of.

One of the things I love so much about the church is it's ability to help people form and foster community. One of the things I hate about the church is our ability to get too comfortable within those communities. We become so comfortable that we forget to reach out or we don't let the people who need us in.

As a kid I was rarely the one who wanted to keep others out of the game, the club, or the parties. Oh, I certainly had my moments of exclusion, but generally I sought to find a way for everyone who wanted to participate to be able to.

In my church life that hasn't changed. When we first began attending Arcade, I felt the familiar feeling of not knowing where I belonged. It was difficult when my then boyfriend (now husband) immediately found community and dove in while I helplessly looked on. I didn't know how I was going to fit into this new place. For many years I didn't think community was possible for me, though I know it is what God desires for us.

We have been at our church for nearly 13 years. I have felt like it was home for only the last five. That left me with eight years of wandering.

I spent many of those years not letting people in because it was easier. All the while, my husband was "all in" with a community of believers I barely knew, even though we regularly lived life together. I didn't know our community largely because I didn't try to.

I couldn't get hurt if I didn't try. The joke was really on me, because trust me, I got hurt, but by my own doing.

Over time, and in spite of myself, I was blessed with some close friends who I came to know and love like family. Once I finally stopped being too absorbed in my own feelings, I was able to begin to actually be a good friend to those around me. I still have much to learn in that department, but half the battle was to stop being a victim.

When a new family started coming to our church, I made it my personal mission to welcome them and force help them become a part of our community. I never wanted them to even consider feeling the way I did, so I started to pour into them like crazy. I so badly wanted them to feel loved and embraced and never, ever on the outside. I wanted things to be perfect for them. They were always friendly, but always seemed to have a wall up. I only tried harder. I had a wake up call when another friend looked at me and said something to the effect of "Claire, I have never seen anyone try so hard to make relationship work with someone as I have seen you try here."

I have never been sure if that was a complement or a criticism, maybe a little of both. What it did do was make me realize that I can't force community. I can't force people to trust me or like me or want to be "real" with me, no matter how badly I want it - for me or for them. I eased up on that relationship and as of yet there isn't the depth that I desired, but that is ok.

Everyone does community in their own way and in their own time. After all, it took me eight years to find my place at the table.


  1. I have been playing hooky from church. I am a total extrovert but single and I have no friends.

    I am at this odd age to boot. Not young and not old.

    It is a season of isolation I am in. It is as painful as what you described.

    I think it has been allowed partly so I would and could understand a post like yours.

    The good news is the next relationship is always around the corner and in it hope.

  2. ToscaSac, I hope you will consider a service at Arcade church one Sunday. There is a very active women's group there full of women in your stage of life/position, so hopefully you would be able to find some connection. Please feel free to email me!


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