Struggling With Community

Today was our church’s community day.

Basically it is a day where we had a café and music and bbq and a freecycle (basically a yard sale where you can take whatever you want for free) and games for kids and cub cars.  The whole community comes out (which in the neighbourhood we live in leads to some very interesting characters).

So, it is a very social day.

I am tired of people.

The beauty of our church and days like this is that we are a very “together” church as one of our past small group members described.  It is smaller and they take the whole community thing very seriously with whole church parties, bonfires and the like.  I love that about the church.  I think community it important.

When we first started going there, people noticed we were new and introduced themselves.  It was great (well, terrifying, but in a “yay, these people actually want to know us” kind of way).  But, once you are there for a while, you become part of the crowd.  The thing is for me is that most of the crowd are either single students or married parents and some days I feel like there isn’t a whole lot of in between.  That and much of the crowd has known eachother forever, so as much as we are welcome, I very rarely feel like I truly fit in except at our small group.

Last week, the women were having another baby shower for another person I don’t know.  I hate baby showers.  And I get so stressed out about social events when I don’t know people.  I went home from church and freaked out to Patrick about how I will never make friends at this rate because I don’t like typical “woman” activities and don’t have time for half the stuff.

He told me “to make a friend, you have to be a friend.”

Very wise, Patrick.   Very wise.

The Child had a similar freak-out with her husband.

As much as I feel alone, she has met even fewer people because they have yet to get plugged into a small group and such.  At least I can say a knowing “hi” to people.

So, we are both together in our loneliness.

Patrick says we are connected on some weird wavelength.

So, we have vowed to be more social.  Including making each other go to things where we can meet other people from the church.

And thus, we volunteered to help with the café for community day.  Coffee, baked goods and saying polite “hellos.”  Right up our alley.    Plus, I love helping people.

And we did it.  And I feel like we did talk to more people than I normally would have.  In fact, I realized that I at least can chat briefly with more people that I know (sort of) that I had thought.  I also, in some bizarre twist of introductions,  examined the intern pastor’s shoulder (awkward).

That kind of talking is fine.  I like conversations that have purpose.  Like reminiscing about skip-its (How awesome were they?  I mean, until you cracked yourself in the ankle or something) or talking about the beauty of the coffee.   I think that is the same skill that gets me through in my job.  I can polite small talk.  I am interested in people and their stories.

I, however, am not good at walking up to someone random and just chatting.

I had to do it for a bit when I was on the InterVarsity exec in university.  I do it when potential new residents come.  I hate it.

I am a shy person.

You wouldn’t necessarily think it if you saw me talking the face off of someone I know, but I am.

So, when my time at the café was done, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I am not artistic, so the painting did not appeal to me.  I don’t have kids and hate kids in mass, so the kids stuff looked like a nightmare (this is where most of the people I know were, including Patrick).  So, I rummaged through the freecycle and eventually went home early.

My problem is me.

I know that.

I am scared of being rejected.  I am scared of not fitting in.   I know a big piece of it is self-centred.  Nobody really cares.  But, I get weirded out sometimes when randoms join my conversation, so I project those feelings on others.

Plus, I was tired of people.

Hello, introvert!

I feel like I am slowly (very slowly) getting to know people.  And very slowly making friends.  Patrick has met a ton of people.  They like him.  They apparently ask about me.

It felt easier at our last church.  I still struggled because that is how I roll and I came from a church where everyone knew everyone.   It was bigger, but our small group was our community because we were almost all from away and had no other connections, so we ventured together.  That made a big difference, I think.  It was still tough to get to know others, but we had a core group who felt similarly as our safety net while we pursued our own interests.

Here, our small group is changing next month and they were almost all there for years and know everyone else. Not quite as built in a mini-community because here everyone does everything together.  And yes, almost everyone is under 40, but many are either students or parents of many and we are somewhere in between (I know there are others… I know it).

And yet, I love it.

I love that it is a together church, I love that it is so young and that there are kids and such.  I love that just by being there and being a Christian, I belong. I love that I am continually challenged by this community and a piece of this is the hugely social aspect.  I just wish I could some how more easily feel like I fit in, instead of feeling so anxious about it all the time.

The good piece is that days like today do still feel like a small bit of progress.  And we will have a new small group soon, which means people to develop closer relationships and accountability.  And the run is coming up and some other stuff that will make us put ourselves out there a bit more.

It will come.  It took over a year at our last church before I really started feeling entirely at home.  I take time to settle and really feel engaged.

I guess that is something God and I have to work on.  Because I am not good at this sort of thing on my own.

Community is both natural and intentional.  I feel like right now I know I am in a community, but I just don’t always feel a part of it.  I did feel angry because I was feeling left out of the community, but I have come to realize that people are inclusive, I just have to show up and try.  A lot of that feeling a part of the community I am in needs to come from me making an effort.  Something I didn’t have the time or energy to do until recently.

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5 thoughts on “Struggling With Community

  1. I am also an introvert and get tired of people. I have become comfortable with me as I am even though I often feel like you do. I can be in a group but yet not feel apart of it. Sometimes I am not even interested in all the chatter going on and yikes! I hate gift showers of any sort! I never know what to get and I don’t think they are fun.

    • I seem to keep meeting introverts. That is a good thing, though. I am glad that there is hope that I might become more comfortable. I hope to continue to become more comfortable with the whole thing.
      And yes, showers. Ugh.

  2. I had my wife read this post this morning, because we were just talking about these things this morning over coffee (before reading it) She said to tell you she just finished a book called “The Party Of One” written by a fellow introvert, which has given her a new freedom to be herself, and not be as bombarded by the guilt and shame for not being more “social” Here’s a link to that book if you’re interested. I have not read it yet and some of it may not be 100 biblical, but it had a lot of wisdom in it she could apply. http://www.amazon.com/Party-One-The-Loners-Manifesto/dp/1569245134

    • Funny how these things happen sometimes.
      Thanks for the book recommendation, I am going to have to try to find it. It sounds like it is just what I need to read!

  3. Pingback: Exhale | At least we made it this far...

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