All my rejection trauma came flooding in.
I’ve been going to this church periodically for a few months. When I do, I go to service and come straight home. I don’t know anyone at this church, but I am becoming familiar with the names and faces of some of the people who lead portions of the service regularly.
So, I go to this church event. I bring my mom and brother with me because I don’t know anyone, and I’ve been socially anxious my entire life. We’re there for two hours and some change and only one person intentionally spoke to us about who we were, if we’d been there before, if we lived in the area, and how it was nice to meet us. Another asked us our names (and told us his) then went on his way.
The pastor made a comment in passing about who was winning our Domino game. Literally in passing, like, as he was walking past the table we were at. We also spoke to the person who checked us in for our meal tickets and the one who told us where we could park.
So, yes, 5 people acknowledged our existence, but only one bothered to try and make us feel welcome (until someone she knew interrupted her talking to us and started her own conversation).
Now, I’ve been to new churches before.
Several years ago, my brother and I moved to Palm Coast for a few months. The first time we went to church, we were personally invited back to the evening youth service by the pastor who recognized us as visitors. That evening, the pastor proceeded to personally introduce us to a couple of the people our ages and they proceeded to introduce us to others in their group. We spent a lot of time with those lovely people while we lived there. And not for one minute did we feel anything but welcome and included.
My mom and brother had never come to this particular church with me, so none of us knew how the day would go, though we had some expectations. We basically just spent time with each other during the 2 hours we were there. And, honestly, I wanted to leave before they did. The weather was gorgeous, though, so we stood outside for a while watching a couple of the games they had going on.
I felt hurt by the lack of intention. There weren’t a lot of people at the event, and we were very obviously the “unknowns” in attendance, so it’s not like we blended in with a crowd and were easily overlooked.
Really loud feelings of rejection came flooding back and it made me want to run away. Then my mother made a comment about people not returning to churches because of that lack of intention and not making visitors feel welcome, and I felt a little bit of shame in bringing my family to “my” new church and none of us feeling any warmth or comfort there.
Now, I’m fighting between my tendency to meet my feelings of rejection with more rejection and refusing to return to this church. Thing is, I still like the service and it’s the only SDA church in the area that I’m aware of. To be clear, “in the area” is still a 30-minute drive from home.
I don’t want to stop going to this church because the folks at this event didn’t create a welcoming environment for the visitors. I know church people can be very cliquey. I just know that maybe I won’t find my people in this place. Or, maybe, my people just weren’t at this particular event and I need to give it more time.
Either way, I’ve worked very hard to even get myself to go back to church, and I’m not going to let this experience ruin it for me.
Today is my brother’s birthday! Happy Birthday Bruddah!!