About the Author

Kristen Strong, author of Back Roads to Belonging and Girl Meets Change, writes as a friend offering meaningful encouragement for each season of life so you can see it with hope instead of worry. She and her US Air Force veteran husband, David, have three children and live in Colorado...

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  1. Kristen,
    One thing I’ve learned about feeling like I’m on the outside looking in, is to not make assumptions about what others are thinking – it only exacerbates the problem. I was recently invited to join a neighborhood group of ladies who walk together once a week. I said I’d give it a go, even though two surgeries on my right foot have greatly hindered the speed at which I can walk. I tried twice to keep up with them, but had to bow out because my foot ached for a whole day or two after walking. One morning, I saw them gathering to go someplace together (rather than do their normal walk). I later found out that they went kayaking, but as I saw them loading up beach towels and coolers, I felt like that little girl again who was about to cry because she was being left out of the fun. I started to assume that they had consciously made a choice to not invite me. Maybe I wasn’t fun enough? Maybe I was forgettable? Maybe…maybe…maybe… After pouting for a few weeks, I finally summoned the courage to say to one of the group, “Hey I heard you went kayaking. Next time you go, I’d love to join you.” Her response was, “Sure, we’d love to have you come.” Hmmm…there hadn’t been a malicious intent to leave me out. It was most likely a case of simply not thinking outside the box. Lessons learned: Don’t assume. Don’t pout. Know that in God’s book, I am ALWAYS on the “inside”. When I organize something, think about who might like to be invited so they don’t feel “left out”. Awesome reminders, Kristen!!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Oh, Bev…I love your brave beautiful response! And I may simply need to borrow it and tweak it to the young mommas who are gathering for playdates and would appreciate an extra pair of eyes and hands since God hasn’t blessed us with children. Thank you!

  2. Kristen,

    Such great truths to glean here. It is so easy, especially for introverts, to feel left out. They have a hard time feeling like they belong. I can readily relate to that. I’m a wallflower kind of person for a while. Once I get to know you better then I bloom. One way I found to belong is to get involved. Start doing things with others in small groups. That way you can get to know them better & start to fit in some. That’s not always easy in every season of life, but one can try. Sometimes though we try to fit in where God doesn’t intend us to be. It just never works out. He puts us right where He wants us. Where He knows we can do & be our best. We need to be still, remain in His quiet love & wait to see what He has for us. Smile friends you do belong to the body of Christ. Let that truth sink into your soul.

    Blessings 🙂

    • I recently left a church after being there for 28 years. I am at a new church now. It is small but very hard for me to fit in.I tried the women’s Bible study but no one really talked to me. I felt very lonely. Someone asked me why I was not attending anymore. I said I felt I did not fit in.. The women told the leader when other women in the study were there what I had said. I am very embarrassed . I am shy until you get to know me. This incident has made me not want to go to church. I usually sit by myself in church. This upsets me also. I do go to a Bible study at another church now. But like the preachingt the first church. So I do not know what to do.

      • Ellie dear, I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. Certainly, churches are not immune to cliques, and I’ve been to a number of churches where belonging took longer than I thought it should. It’s hurtful when you’re a new person, and no one seems to notice or care enough to reach out.

        During times like those (in church and elsewhere), it’s so easy to withdraw, as I’ve certainly been known to do. But Ellie, I would like to gently ask you this question: Have you reached out and “gone first” by walking up to talk to other folks? Ideally every new person in any group wouldn’t have to, but that just isn’t the way things usually work out. I know it feels a little awkward to reach out first, but as my friend Holley Gerth says, “Awkward is the price of admission to authentic connection.” I know this is extra hard when you fall on the more introverted side (I’m an introvert, too!). And even when we do go first, it could still take time. A LOT of time. But I do believe it’s worth it to keep trying.

        Also, Ellie? I don’t think you have anything to be embarrassed about because that particular study found out your true feelings. Sometimes folks, especially folks who’ve been members of an established group for a long time, just don’t know how the new people feel unless we tell them. I applaud you for your open communication that will hopefully lead to those ladies seeing the new people with fresh eyes and putting forth the work to welcome them in.

        Thank you so much, Ellie, for reaching out and commenting here. You are beloved by your Father and this community! xo

      • sorry to hear that. honestly churches can be SO hard to fit into. I went to the same church for 10 years and was in leadership. after a change we are now trying to attend another one. I said trying because Sunday after Sunday not one person in the church approaches our family..no hello..nothing. I think it’s up to leadership to step up and welcome new people. I too have tried to connect with a ladies group but nothing…no invites to come , I was told they’re very tight knit so it’s takes awhile. I hope you can find a church you love..its hard to break thru a wall but sometimes it’s about what church feeds our spirit too. if you enjoy the sermons & worship continue to go !

      • Ellie,

        So sorry for the lack of fellowship you find in churches. Sometimes it can be hard to fit into churches. They have their cliques. Praying God will send a good church family your way. May He guide you to the right place with the same loving people I have at my little church. Maybe a church in your area has “small groups” that get together during the week to discuss the sermons. It has taken me 15 years to really fit in here. Shy at first, & not much time to attend a church 10 miles away. Asking God for guidance for your next steps.

        ((((((Hugs))))))

    • Beth, I think you touch on something important here. It’s hard to want to get involved when you’re lonely and feel like retreating, but choosing to get involved anyway goes such a long way to helping us know belonging. Like you said, it’s not easy and sometimes it doesn’t work out as we hoped, but we must persevere and keep trying!

  3. We are never too feel are on the outside excellent reading. Thank you so so so much for it. That happens to so many Christian we go running to this Church and that Church trying to fit in. When most Churches are I find a click and clan. What I mean by that is I found it in the past they don’t expect you are get too know you unless you got money. The members of that church will only sit in certain pue. When they go that Church. Or if Chair in that row. Thet will tell you sorry that’s our seats you our sitting in. I just say to myself I don’t see your name on them. They drive the most fancy car etc. That no what Jesus wanted the Church too be like. They think they are more important than you. That is why I love the Salvation Army they expect you for who you are and love you for who you are. They don’t care what car you drive. They do everything the way Jesus did it in the Bible. He washed people’s feet. Fed the hungry. Loved all people still does today he had no favorites. Not like some Churches. He prayed for everyone. Still does. We are too as Christian do the same. We are no on the outside. Jesus wants us. We are on The Jesus Side. I say Amen to that. Love Dawn xxxxx

    • “We are on The Jesus Side.” ~ I LOVE this, Dawn. Amen.

      Goodness, I’m so sorry for your terrible experiences within your church. I can’t believe some people would behave in such a way as you described (except I can totally believe it). I’m praying now that you’re able to find a different one that is warm, welcoming, and “others-focused.” One that has a heart for the people within its congregation and the people outside its congregation. I pray you find one where you feel at home and cared for as you help others to feel at home and cared for, too. Sending you so much love, Dawn.

    • I go the Salvation Army now they love me for who I am. They do care what house car you drive etc. They do everything on to Jesus and love you on to Jesus. They tought me it not about the fancy house or car etc. You can’t take it with you when you die. You came into world naked and with nothig and that is way you will go out with nothing with when you die. We are to live like Jesus caring for his people and loving them red and yellow black and white as Christians. That is what I do
      Like this song. Jesus Loves me for the Bible tell Me So. Thank you so much for you kind reply. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little

  4. Kristen this is one of those seemingly simple facts believers need reminding of quite often (myself included). Maybe it’s part of how we are wired to doubt and question our place but the idea of relaxing in our position is something I know I still need to work on. I was reading the Lord’d prayer again this week (in black and white) and Jesus starts with “Our Father…” He teaches us to pray by kicking it off with the believer’s position in Christ right off the bat. We are not a distant cousin or even a step child, but a daughter. Even ground. No hierarchy. He is our Father and settling our souls in the knowledge of that fact should help us relax. Thank you for the reminder today.

    • Kellie, I think you’re right on here. Thank you for reminding me about how we are all indeed on even ground and settling our souls in the knowledge that we’re God’s daughter is so vital. xo

  5. Thank You for the opportunity to remove myself from the hustle & bustle of life, winter, spring, summer or fall. Busy grandma raising children ~
    Need and always appreciate a time to read study & Pray♥️ God Bless

  6. Kristen, so beautifully said. I can’t thank you enough because I feel like I’ve been on my tip toes on the top ring of a ladder waving a “what about me?” flag with my writing and marketing . Your words really spoke to and calmed my soul and mind.
    Thank you and God Bless.❤

  7. I too experience this at a church I am going to. I did join a Bible study. No one asked me to sit by them. Outside of me saying Hello. No one said a word to me.

    • Ellie dear, I wrote you a longer comment above, but let me just reiterate how sorry I am for all you’ve experienced. God truly desires for you to belong, and may you sense His presence and direction as He guides you to your place of belonging. xo

  8. good message. been there a thousand times..i was into ministry so made it my heart to welcome new people and find out what they needed etc. now we are the new people in a church and no one talks to us. everyone is looking at their phones / and huffing at their kids / rushing out the door after service. our world seems to have forgotten the need to connect in person. I love to go up and say hello to people…but more and more people are preoccupied. I honestly know it’s not up to us to win others approval. God never said ” run the race & win as much approval as you can “???!! I know God brings people into my life that are meant to be here ; the others who are too busy are on their own journey.
    it’s hard to connect forsure but we are not on the outside; we are where God put us for a reason and a time.

  9. Thank you for your insights! I never thought of it that way! Maybe that will help me to cope! I’ve felt like an outsider alot! May God bless you aid you and continue to give you insights into things! Love in Him Lauren

  10. Kristen
    This resonates as we once again move location from country to city and all changes. Your encouraging words mean more to me than you could know. Susan

  11. Thanks so much for the article. Extremely insightful for those on the outside and those on the inside.

  12. Thank you for sharing…I have walked in those shoes (and still do) many times. I call it “being a porch person” – invited on the porch but never fully into the house. I have learned you just have to love people where they are and not judge them. I wanted to help others so I started a monthly “Soup Night”. (In the summer it turns into Grill Night). We invite a different mix of people each month and host Christian hospitality Jesus style… sharing a meal..sharing stories…slowing down and getting to know one another. Connecting people who wouldn’t normally connect. I love looking around on these nights at our small house oVerflowing with people and watching the interactions, listening to the conversations and laughter. Food is a great uniting force! We have had farmers, trades people, small business owners, widows/widowers, wealthy/well connected people all together in our humble, small home. It overflows on these nights. I am sure each person accepted the invitation for a different reason but they all leave smiling and ask us to invite them again. We live in a rural/small town area with a mix of lot of people who are only here in the summer, retirees/widows/widowers, and full time families. We moved here 5 years ago and jumped in… church, Rotary lots of volunteering. Even with all of that, we are still Porch People in oh so many ways. But facilitating connections and reaching out just as Jesus did is my way loving as he did and opening the door wide to allow people to enter our home and our hearts. The shortened version of what I am trying to share… love them where they are – just as Jesus taught us in so many stories in the Bible. I know, in reading others experiences in the comments this doesn’t always work – I just decided not to dwell on others actions and take that longing of belonging and create something that helps others… so perhaps this approach would be something others could try…