Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Predicament (03/01/12)
TITLE: Hello, My Name Is Rebecca
By annie keys
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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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