I don’t know them.
I’ve said hi a few times. I’ve stood in the quad after church with coffee in hand, trying to politely tell my kids “just one blueberry muffin!”
I met Julie the first Sunday I visited at the church’s welcome table. Lynn, I met at a newcomer’s dinner last month. She smiled, asked me where I’m from, whether I was new in town. The third girl Nicole sat in the row behind me before worship service. I turned to notice she and her husband were flanked by two girls, one around TJ’s age. A mommy-comrade-in-arms, I noted to self.
Sure, I know their names, how many kids they have, where about town they live and how long they’ve been going to church.
But, I don’t really know them.
You see, I’m new at my church.
And in many ways, as hard it is to look for a new community of believers to do life with and worship together — it can also be very easy to be new.
It is very easy to just lay low.
To be quiet.
To be safe.
To just smile and remain unknown.
… To keep every interaction from leading to the one door you don’t want to walk through.
It’s the doorway of being known.
If you’ve been hanging out here at the (in)courage beach house for even a nanosecond, you know something big is happening in a couple days April 27 and 28. Our first (in)RL meetups — real life get togethers — are happening this weekend.
Well, I had been feeling lost as to where I should go or what I should do for (in)RL. It reminded me of playing musical chairs (those icebreakers!). I hate that feeling of being left without a seat when the music stops. You know the feeling.
Because psst… you know, I’m one of the writers here. Should I host? Or should I just join a nearby get together? I wanted to do something small and intimate, but I felt this pressure to do something big. Because you know, I really do believe in community.
I’ve been hurt and broken by community.
But, I was also put together by community. Real people who cared about my broken spirit became Jesus with skin to me. They nurtured my heart by allowing me to talk about the hard things: the questions that don’t have answers and problems that may not be solved. They didn’t try to fix me. They accepted the parts of me that I feared could never be repaired.
Through learning to trust them, I received a gift Jesus wrapped for me in others: being known.
At a Tomb
Being known — this is a gift Jesus offers us through you and me.
I’ve unwrapped this gift in the past. Will I take a step to open this gift new — today?
Will I open myself to know others — and allow them to know me too?
As I thought about Christ’s resurrection, God drew me into a scene that freed me to make a decision about how to do (in)RL.
God brought me to three women who met at a tomb.
Mary of Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome were all going to do something conventional for women at the time: preparing a body for burial. They were walking together to go and bathe Jesus in burial ointments.
Just the three of them.
Then something totally unexpected happened.
They found an empty tomb.
They found evidence of life.
And they experienced a crazy, amazing turn in their story they did not expect.
I knew God was speaking straight into my heart.
I don’t care about the numbers, Bonnie.
I have never placed importance on what you can do for me.
I place importance on you.
Rest confidently in what I am doing — new — in you.
On the surface, getting together with new friends might seem a “conventional repeat” of what we’ve done in the past, in our search for community. Maybe like me, there are stories from the tomb of broken community quietly looming in the back of your mind.
No matter, Jesus meets us confidently. He says to us what he said to Mary that morning — “Peace be with you.”
The Way He Is
So, for this weekend, I invited three new friends for my (in)RL meet up. I’ve picked out the pastries — something chocolately, lemony, and buttery. I’m going to pick up a special lavender earl gray tea for that afternoon. And I will definitely have some yummy shots of hazelnut ready for the coffee drinkers.
Yes, I have an ice breaker. No, it is not going to be musical chairs. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Above all, I’m looking for Jesus to meet us there. He is going to provide the life, the sweetness and the ease of heart.
I know He is going to show up and surprise us all.
It’s just the way He is. It’s His way. Being known.
If you’re taking the initiative to get to know others, are you feeling the pressure of expectations?
What will people expect of you — of the time that spent together?
If you’re accepting someone’s invitation, are you asking yourselves these same questions?
I think it’s totally normal to feel the way we do.
No matter how many times we’ve done this whole getting-to-know you-getting-to-know-me thing, opening ourselves is always a new faith challenge.
Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re feeling the tug.
To initiate a get together?
To accept someone’s invitation?
To visit a small group?
Or maybe a big group?
One or two — ten or fifty — it holds the same weight in Jesus’ eyes. He sees straight into us and values our faith in Him. When we take steps to move forward, our faith is what Jesus treasures precious beyond compare.
We are all walking through the doorway of being known.
He is holding your hand.
And He is holding mine.
Let’s walk through together.
Call. Email. Get together . Whatever it is.
It’s never too late. Even now.
“And when two or three of you are together because of me,
you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
~ Jesus, Matthew 18:20
What your thoughts on the doorway of being known?
What encourages you to walk through — what is it that holds you back?
Pull up a chair. Click here to share a comment. I’m all ears.
By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
(Psst… It’s not too late to register for (in)RL!
Check out the Meetups happening in your area. Register here.)
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Walking Through The Doorway of Known | Faith Barista says
[…] …To read the rest of the story – click here to join me over at DaySpring’s (in)courage site, where today’s post is published. […]
Marina Bromley says
Oh Bonnie…I NEEDED this today!
Our last move, coming here to KY, was so precious! We felt like God had prepared a place for us in community, and it all happened so fast – effortless.
And now, TODAY, we’re waiting to hear about another move…as a new opportunity has opened up with my husband’s company. And while my prayer is all “only God’s will” I can’t help but wonder “could He bless us this way twice?”. Because really, we love life here. He had work for us both, in ministry and a paycheck, and He’s blessed the work of our hands, of our hearts, an although we can go to earn a paycheck – can we find community there that will have a spot for me, for us? And a few questions loom over the ifs and how’s of making friends and being on the road, and well…how will He make that happen??
So I needed this, to remind me that He desires us in fellowship. And church, that sense of community, He loves too…but it’s the frosting on the cake.
I can rest now, and stop worrying, and start trusting…knowing He knows all we don’t know, like if he’ll even get the job…
Marina Bromley says
Thanks for the post Bonnie- I really needed it today!!
The rest of the story will be on my blog (too long to post it here…).
Love your heart!!
Thank you for this. I’ve been looking forward to your posts and kind of missing you and your writing. 🙂 I’m hosting a small inRL gathering and although it’s familiar friends, i’m still feeling a little apprehensive on how it will turn out. Thank you for the reminder that “He will show up and surprise us all.” I’m new to my church too and can identify with so much too!
Sending <3 and a virtual hug your way.
Wahoo! I was so happy to see Faith Barista sitting in my inbox and you were the first email at the top! So I was excited to read your post. I know how you felt. I was about to be the new person in a church when my truck broke down and I couldn’t get there but eventually I will when the truck gets fixed. For me it will be a big step but I am hoping that I will find “home” this time. And getting involved and walking through that door will be hard and I know I will feel some apprehension but….I am also counting on God to be there, too, to help me along the way. Your post was a big encouragement.
Nikole Hahn says
Bonnie! Missing your posts and encouragement!
This seems to be a popular topic. I’ve experienced this many times. It’s an awkward feeling. I know God wants me to rest easy….but being an outsider is always strange. Especially when you come from BEING THE PASTOR’s family/wife. That label guarantees a level of popularity that thrusts you into knowing & being known.
New people need warm welcomes with genuine acceptance. Many church’s are missing the mark on this.
Wow. God bless you! I just know that He is going before you, marching before you as He is leading you and giving you the “orders” lol. It will be an amazing glorious time where His love and His presence and His agape love will be so felt that it will leave a warmth & a deep joy in the hearts of all of you precious women Wish I could be there! let us know how it went and oh boy, I wish we were able to reach out & touch the screen and taste those yummies and tea & hazelnut coffee! lol
You are beyond Blessed and the Lord delights in You.
Awesome devotion My Friend <3
I have recently told someone I wanted to get to know them better. I wanted a friend. It has been a scary experience. First, being afraid they will reject the offer of “I want to get to know you better.” Second, with our busy lives will we be able to make it happen? Third, is this person “safe?” Fourth, what if she rejects who I am and what is inside of me? I have been hurt by community just like you.
It is an act of trusting God.
We have gone walking twice now. I have no idea if this will turn into a friendship or not. I am scared to do this even a third time now.
Thank you for the encouragement! Realizing I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes. Realizing God is the God of community.
I tried, i mentioned, i face booked but no one seemed to fancy the idea of joining me in a meet up. In fact its really hurt my heart to be truthful. So on saturday i think i may just be hiding and nursing my heart.
Community is hard when you scared already, saver to never ask twice, one rejection is enough.
I understand completely how you feel and I too have experienced that same hurt many times. One thing I like what she said was that Yes, we have been hurt by community, but we also have been helped and loved and nutured by community. You can’t experience this without risk. I know it hurts, but Jesus was not safe and He doesn’t want us to be either. I have been in a desert for the last several years hiding from potential hurt from church and the pain of that isolation was worse than the hurt inflicted by others. I’m ready to step out again. I hope you don’t wait too long.
I also know your ache, Sara. I went to a Christian college and felt isolated and alone amidst hundreds of incredible Christian women. I sat by myself almost every day in chapel, and just wanted to cry. For two years. Oh, how it hurt… and still hurts.
But eventually, I put myself out there again. I told people about the broken places, and they actually cared. I listened, I served, I cared in return. And because of the hurt, the community I have now is even more cherished and beautiful. I pray the same for you. I hope you will participate on Saturday, even if it’s just you and Jesus. There will be hundreds of us there with you in spirit. And there will be more chances for in-person connections… take hope! ::hugs::
Marie Johns says
For years I was the one who stood at the back of the crowd, waited for everyone else to do something, fear kept me from moving into the “open.” Then through a completely unexpected avenue, the Father helped me to conquer fear and move forward, out into the open. I started running for health and with the purpose to encourage others. I started introducing myself to complete strangers at running events, especially if the person was my age (trans. old) or looked apprehensive. I just wanted to encourage them. Then another strange thing happened. What happened at running events, translated to my church. I started greeting people before services, making sure anyone new felt welcomed and warmed. For 9 years now this has been going on. Sure I can’t always remember names (another senior problem) but I remember faces, and people remember mine. It has made community such an essential part of my life. I do not know any strangers. In the mall, at the grocery store, at the park, running in the neighborhood–I am not afraid to “put myself out there” for the glory of God and the encouragement of others.
Liz G says
You said it! Jesus said peace be with you, encouraging us to have, give and be at peace… that’s what He wants for us! God bless you all today.
I sure have missed you and I am so needed this thank you so much. Praise God.
Liz G says
You said it! Jesus wants us to give, receive and have the peace that God knows we need. God bless you all today.
I have been praying for God to put just one person in my path that I could take a leap of faith and hopefully gain a new friend. I am fighting loneliness and it seems the groups I have tried to become part of have not been where God wants me to be. It has been breaking my heart. But I am still praying and waiting.
Beth Williams says
To really get to know someone you must “Be Jesus” to them. My hubby and I attend a small church in a small community 10 miles from home. Oh we know the names of most the people there, but do we really know them?
I do a Bible study with some of the women and have gotten to know them well. I also try to be Jesus to those hurting… through loss of loved one, being in a hospital, surgery, etc. Spending some time with them, talking to them and listening–really listening I get to know them and they me.
That is the only way I feel one can get to really know someone–past the superficial.
Thank you. This served to bring some healing after a recent ‘falling on my face’ episode at a new small group meeting. I was desperate for fellowship…and it showed. God is good so I know there are other opportunities. But taking another first step after great distress is beyond difficult. Meanwhile, my husband watches this process and asks, ‘why do you do this to yourself?’ Sometimes healing is slow and clunky….this will take time… time now is for waiting on God for mending, for direction.
I have been hurt several times by community — people being just too busy to do life together and/or develop real friendships, or, to be blunt — people not caring. It seems if you’re a woman without children you’re an outsider — even within the church. I am looking for another community now where I can love and serve and do life with. It’s so hard to start over yet again. My heart is very bruised and I feel very little motivation except I know Jesus wants me in a community and so I will keep trying as best I can. My husband and I visited a new church this past Sunday and maybe it will become our church home…or somewhere else God leads us. Praying and waiting on His timing. I feel for all my Christian sisters who are struggling with this issue as it is very painful. God bless.
Bonnie! It’s so good to “see” you! Hope things are going well with the book! I miss you!
I’m very familiar with the doorway of being unknown. Part of me likes being unknown- it’s safe. There is another larger part of me that is tired of this shallow form of community. But to be honest, I’m scared to be open with folks. I know moving forward in community is going to require me taking small steps of vulnerability. I’m following your lead. 😉
Thank you for this. Sometimes I think my emotions are just mine, but it’s so helpful to realize that other women feel these things too. I have this intense desire to belong, to be connected, and am nervous for what Saturday will bring. I’m more of a small-group girl, and the meetup I’m attending is one of the biggest! I’m praying for a few good connections that day, and to be an encouragement to the other ladies.
I’m praying that those who feel like they don’t belong will find that they really do. And for those who haven’t been able to find a local meetup – don’t lose heart. Come, be with us all… we’re with you in spirit! And don’t lose hope.
I am also new to my church. I am just now coming out of my shell…so to speak. I was deeply hurt by my prior church family when I left at God’s instruction. Including my pastor who snubbed me when I saw them outside the church and stopped to see how they were. But, I cannot hold what others did to me against those who have not. Although skiddish I keep putting my insecure feet forward on the waters toward Jesus. As I have I too have encountered those “Jesus with skin on” folks. I forgot a friends wedding, and so I couldn’t host a meetup like I hoped, but I have really been considering a monthly bible study in my home. I’ll get a chance to be a part of this weekend alone, but the good news is my bestie of 23 years wants to help me host the future meetups. Yay!
Janmary, N Ireland says
I am hosting an in(RL) on Saturday – feeling nervous, not sure who is coming but I’ll probably know them all.
Praying we can relax and really connect. Not sure what the future holds but I’m excited (and scared!)
Being the unknown is much easier. That’s because reaching out to others means stepping outside my comfort zone and making an effort. In the end, though, it’s worth it.
Maria @ A Blooming Spirit says
Bonnie, thank you for this; so needed it. I am attending a meetup in my town for the (In)RL, and part of me is panicking a bit because I have a hard time walking through this doorway you mention. I initially was going to just join the cybercast because, and I’m sorry to say, requires no face-to-face contact wih the other girls, but when I saw there is a meetup in my town, I decided to join in. Call it taking a leap of faith. I am really looking forward to meeting them all, but at the same time I’m a bit nervous… if this all makes sense.. 🙂
Bonnie, I can relate to what you have said. You’re not the only one.
I took a wild leap, and looked for an inRL meet up in my area. There is one, started by another woman, and so the two of us were going to join. I have never met her, never heard any details regarding this event, and never received a reply to my questions even when I asked if she would like to meet and named the place. So, I hope to join you here in my own home this weekend. Community has been and still is, to some degree, the most painful place for me to be. Yet, there’s hope…. Thank you for your transparency.
Have a wonderful day! And enjoy your inRL get togethers, Everyone! Sincerely, Tina
Thank you so much for this. I have been so encouraged to step back into being known. My family of 6 moved 2 years ago and it has been so hard to find the right church. We have had countless church shopping days and recently decided to stay put for a while at a mega church. Needless to say, this post really spoke to my heart so thank you so much for sharing.
I feel the pull of your words and deep inside I do want to join community again. It just seems that not only have we been hurt by community but felt an all out attack on us for no reason other than believing a differently about the doctrince of the role of a wife. I did not say much about it, but they knew I felt a wife should follow the lead of her husband. This seemed to threaten this last group of mine enough to start vicious rumors and even spying on our family, trying to find any mud they could sling. Hurt? Not only was I hurt, I was terrorized and am not so quick to stick myself out there again. I felt stalked and to this day I won’t even join facebook or any group where they may be able to penetrate enough to cause me harm. I do feel God drawing me out, but I fear for my kids most of all…so I start my community here, like a turtle sticking out it’s head. Thank you for understanding and encouraging words!!
Linda Ogborn says
I have to admit – this is one of those “ouch” posts that hit me between the eyes. Having just moved and found a church, I am struggling to step out behind the small (?) wall I have erected. Having worked at my old church and being in the family there for over 8 years, it is quite the difficult task to actually put myself out there because, like everyone else, I don’t care that much for the sting of rejection.
Thanks for the reminder though – I will heed your post and learn to step out in faith. Jesus knows my heart and I’m sure He has close friends for both of us in our new families! 🙂
Angie in Guernsey says
“No matter how many times we’ve done this whole getting-to-know you-getting-to-know-me thing, opening ourselves is always a new faith challenge.”
Hard, so hard, to walk through something you don’t know.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but then again sometimes it does.
What I’ve realized is that it is WORTH IT to try.
Jeri Taira says
What encourages me to walk through? That next friendship might be a God connection.
What holds me back? Rejection. Definitely the issue.
Thank you for this Bonnie, and thank you to all you ladies for your honesty in sharing. I must say that this article pricked me up. The community that hurts us is ironically the same avenue that we can give and receive healing relationships. The fear of being hurt again after repeated instances of working through the sadness from previous experiences inevitably drives one to cocoon back behind safe doors. Your article brought food for thought about stepping out again.
I forgot about this event and certainly could have used it yesterday. But I have no church community and well I’m just not at a pt. where I could invite my ‘friends’ here. Saturdays are days of catching up on rest. The week drains me, exhausts me. I have fibromyalgia and ostero arthritis and teaching teens all week in the public school system takes everything I’ve got. I spend Friday nights and most of Saturday recouping.
I’m also intimaded by the technology of webcam. Plus when I’m exhausted, such things seem even harder.
But I have reached out today and your words reached down in me and shed light on some issues I’ve been dealing with. I do not have a church. I’m not sure I want a church. The worst hurt I’ve experienced came from a church and my Christian friends there. The woman who told me God sent her to be the Christian sister she had been praying for, thanked God and me by falling in love with my husband and eventually getting him for herself. After 15 years of best friendship and Christian fellowship, I watched her and my husband and my 17 yr. old daughter walk off into the sunset.
God was faithful. I had awesome family support. My 15 yr. old son stood by me. Two friends who my husband considered ‘heathen’ stood by me and helped my family love me through it all.
I am now in a good relationship with my ex and the ex-best friend. We are together a lot because we share six grandkids now. I forgave them years ago. I even have thanked her because in losing him, I gained me. I went back to college at age 39 and graduated at 43 with an English grades 7-12 degree. I am using my gift of teaching.
He prevented me from finishing college and balked at me working.
But I struggle with friendships and letting people close. And even this event is too close for me.
But you’ve given me much to ponder and pray about. Thank you.
Laura in Montana says
I am so familiar with the feelings you described. You articulate them so well.
I marvel at women who seem to have no fear of “being known”. How brave!
I have always struggled with this; letting someone get too close.
I know where the fear comes from. Childhood scars.
But Jesus was gracious enough to give me my husband and a group of women who are like “Jesus in flesh” to me. I am opening my heart and letting these safe people in; deeper than I have ever let someone know me before. How liberating. Being known, really known, by safe people. A good step toward opening the fullness of who I am to others.
Thanks for your post. I feel less alone!
Carol J. Garvin says
The (in)RL online conference was a great idea! I didn’t find any fellow Canadians for a meetup but enjoyed following the videos on my own.
I’m surprised at how many people have said they’ve been hurt within church communities. It’s not something that I’ve ever experienced and I’ve attended a lot of different churches through the years.
I’m an introvert and privacy is important to me, so that may be why keeping to myself or relating one-on-one with people, is more my style than seeking acceptance in a larger community. What’s so wonderful in the (in)courage community, however, is that everyone is allowed — even expected — to “be themselves”. When a person can be “real” there isn’t anything that needs to be hidden in that kind of environment. It feels safe and comfortable. (in)courage is that kind of place… a ministry sanctioned by God.
I’ve missed your posts so much. Hope your book is going well!
It’s so hard to walk through the door because of fear of rejection. I needed this. Thank you.
Bonnie, what a wonderful message!! I love your analogy with the empty tomb–yes, He is with us, He helps us! Blessings to you for your courage to host an (in)RL meet-up–hope it was wonderful and full of Him! What a beautiful heart you have, always seeking more fellowship with Him and with others! You’re truly an inspiration! Blessings!