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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Predicament (03/01/12)

TITLE: Hello, My Name Is Rebecca
By annie keys


Quote: “Life is a predicament which precedes death.” This tongue in cheek observation was made by Henry James, an American born writer and clergyman who is often referenced as one of the leaders in 19th century literary realism. It was one of these life’s predicaments that I found myself facing a year ago.

After having lived in the same city for 45 years, my husband and I had moved to another state to retire. It was very difficult and painful to pack up the intimacies of our life, say good bye to friendships nurtured over a lifetime, and give our grandchildren one last hug. As difficult as the rigors of moving proved to be; our first Sunday in our new city was as emotionally draining as the move itself.

My husband and I recognized the importance of establishing life priorities quickly. Because a new environment makes it easy to leave even well-founded habits behind, finding a church home was placed on the top of our list. We knew that Satan takes advantage of every circumstance; life is about choices and doing nothing is always the easiest choice of all.

As my husband and I sat in a church we’d never attended before, I experienced the chill of anonymity. There was no family to embrace, and no friends to welcome me. Standing tall, I took a deep breath and reassured myself with the thought, “Soon, I will put names with these faces and these people will be my friends.”

In obedience to the order of worship, I stood, sang, sat, prayed and listened to the well prepared sermon. My tears fell unnoticed, or, perhaps, simply accepted by those around me as a part of my personal worship experience. My husband squeezed my hand and sat close with his arm around my back.

We had reminded ourselves that no church would, immediately, feel like “home”; the coveted feeling of “belonging” comes with familiarity. Most people in a church are welcoming because they have been trained, either directly or by assimilation, to reach out to newcomers. I recognized that if my first contact was with one of the few who weren’t friendly and I let myself be hurt; who wins in that game? Satan.

As a visitor, putting all the responsibility of “meet and greet” on the other person is unfair. Being in “their” church doesn’t mean that ALL the duties of protocol and etiquette should rest on them. Perhaps the person sitting behind or beside me may be a first time visitor just like me. Determined to not fall victim to the wiles of the deceiver, I reminded myself that making friends is a two way street, and, an introduction is the first step of relationship. 

When the last prayer was said, I turned to the person closest to me, smiled invitingly, and extended my hand in greeting. After all, who wouldn’t respond to the warmth of a smile? In very short time; the shared foundation in Christ was built upon and strangers, as had been anticipated, became precious friends!

The fact that making new friends at church is difficult speaks directly to how important friends are to both God and Satan; for opposite reasons.  Satan knows that if I have no friends at church, I will be vulnerable to his tools of discouragement, bitterness and loneliness.

God knows that there is personal growth in friendship and strength in fellowship.  It’s up to me which plan I choose to participate in. Friendships are an important validation of emotional stability; Satan wants me to be weak and vulnerable. Therefore, I will not wait for others to make the first move toward relationship. I choose to make friends because I choose to avail myself of all the strongholds of Godly friendship. “Hello, my name is Rebecca, but my friends call me Bitsy.”

(638 words: non-fiction with personal data changed)

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This article has been read 492 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/08/12
This is an enjoyable read. Having a church is important but finding the right fit isn't always easy. You did a nice job showing your message.
Donna Faehling03/08/12
Great subject, good writing, good lesson to remember. Watch the placing of semi-colons!
C D Swanson 03/08/12
I really thought this was going to be a true story, or based on one. It resonated with authenticity tenfold.
It was a very good read with an important message from beginning to end.

Thank you for this. Church is so important, and the "right fit" sometimes takes more than one "hunt."

Nicely told, and nicely done.
God Bless~
Sherrie Coronas03/08/12
Nice writing and a truly important message.
Leola Ogle 03/09/12
This entry is a great reminder of how we should treat those new to our church. It's easy to settled in a rut and familiarity by interacting with those we know at church. This was well written!
Hiram Claudio03/09/12
I really enjoyed your willingness to be open and vulnerable here. That had to be tough moving to a new environment like did. This piece was filled with so much wisdom and I really liked how you focused on our individual responsibilitty when it comes to being in new settings - all to often, we put all the blame on others. I connected with your "two way street" thinking. Wonderful writing.
Theresa Santy 03/10/12
Great story, message, and flow. Loved this line:

"I experienced the chill of anonymity."

My only suggestion is to delete the first word, since it's unnecessary.
Donna Wilcher03/10/12
You described perfectly the need for "Koinonia". It's the Greek word used to describe perfect Christian fellowship with other believers and with God. And...like you said, it is absolutely essential for every believer to join into that perfect unity and fellowship, or be left alone to battle the hounds of hell alone.

Very good message... written perfectly!
Robin Ocasio 03/11/12
This is so very true! Good Job! :)
Danielle King 03/11/12
Good message here and written sincerely from the heart. Good use of the topic.
Edmond Ng 03/13/12
I absolutely agree that feeling at home is a two way street, and we need not wait for people to welcome us to a new place. Thank you for sharing this. God bless.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/14/12
You have some good advice tucked into your interesting piece.
Hiram Claudio03/15/12
Congratualtions on receiving "Highly Commended" for this beautiful entry!
C D Swanson 03/15/12

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/15/12
Congratulations on your HC and placing 13th overall!