OK, so Kris and I haven't gone to a church in a while. We keep meaning to find a church to become a part of, but can't seem to find one that we like, plus it doesn't help that we believe that going to church on Sundays doesn't make us better Christians. We also really dislike church politics. Nonetheless, I really want to find a place where I can worship and have fellowship with others, plus we definitely want to raise Alaise in a Church environment.
We had a "home" church that we went to for a while. We were part of the young-married group and met other newly weds. We loved the pastor and his wife, and we met at their house, and we really thought we had found our church. During that time, we (okay, mostly me, since Kris makes friends effortlessly) tried really hard to make friends there. You know, real friends, not just people you see when you go to church on Sunday mornings. I remember being hurt by this one couple, who we invited to our house to eat dinner and hang out - they seemed to enjoy hanging out, but never invited us to do anything back. That kinda stung. Anyway. One reason or another, we quit going.
I knew I hadn't made real friends at that church, during almost a year of attending, when we never got a call from any of them (except one couple, who Kris keeps in contact still), wondering where we were, why we weren't coming to church anymore. Or just to say hey, we haven't seen you in a while, do you want to hang out?
I hate church friends. I struggled with this for a long time. Not necessarily with church friends, but the fact that I don't seem to be happy making "shallow" friends - friends that aren't your best friends, but people you just do stuff and hang out with. I would dissect why this was. Kris and I had lots of talks about this, and we think part of it is how I grew up. Attending HIS in Indonesia, everyone was practicaly family, and I was surrounded by intimate friends. It's almost like I didn't know how to make acquaintences. I didn't ever want to share anything with people I wasn't already really good friends with, which results in never making any new friends. I have tried to get over this, so I try to share stuff with acquaintences, but I don't like doing it, and if they don't share back, I have a really hard time not taking it personally. For example, when we left the church, all the contact that we had with that group was initiated by us... The few emails we exchanged, I wrote first. And that kinda gets old. If I didn't reach out first, nothing ever happened.
The other day at Walmart, we ran into one of those church friends. I actually considered her one of my closest friends in that group, so it was really good to see her, and catch up. I had to laugh though, at the end of it - we just said Hey, good to see ya! And that was that. No "Hey, we should get together and hang out again." I feel like these kinds of relationships are almost pointless.
I know most of the problem is with me. I hope that Kris and I can find a home church soon, where we will make great relationships and allow Alaise to grow up in a Christian environment, and get to know other kids. I do pray though, that God will take us where He will, and allow us to meet great couples. People who will reach back to me, if I reach out first. Because only God can do stuff like that. :)
Dana Stuber (not verified)
Orrrr... you could just move here, join our church, and be our best friends :)
Oh Ju, I do relate, and over Thanksgiving my parents and I spent a lot of time talking about this.
I think one this is that culturally, small talk is very important to Americans. They do small talk for a long time, and that and shared fun times are the foundations for friendships. I hate it - I hate small talk and find it uncomfortable. However, since that's the culture I'm in, I find that I NEED to do it if I intend to build friendships, and I also need to be okay with it taking a while. If I truly want to build friendships, I'll be willing to put in the time it takes.
I think one thing with church friends is the need for a stated commitment to each other. Most people float at church unless they grew up in the church or have been there for years. When you're young and new like we are, one way to firm up friendships is to be in a group that is committed to building close community and friendship. I feel like that commitment is necessary, or else everyone floats away just like you described.
Anonymous (not verified)
I completely understand how you feel. It's kind of like your the new person again. When you try to make friends at your new church you think about the relationships you've had with your old church members.
Moving from another church can be hard. Especially when the doctrine wasn't the reason you moved. Sometimes it can be distance or the topic of having friends and being close to other members. It's especially hard when it wasn't your decision. It could've been your spouse/mate or parents. No matter who it was that made the decision for you it still hurts.
When you see people from church don't be afraid to still be friendly even though you're not at that church. If you tell them that you're still at a church they'll be comforted to know that you're in the body of Christ. Keep the faith!!!
Anonymous (not verified)
I could have written this! It sounds so similar to my experiences.
My husband and I have been at our new church 1 1/2 years, but we do almost all the initiating. People come to our get togethers and dinners, seem to have fun, and then there is no reciprocity. I only see them at group church functions.
I was thinking about drifting away from this church, but will it be better at the next? The last month I have just gone to church for the service, and left immediately without interacting with anyone. My husband has maybe spoken to one or two male acquaintances. Recently, a few of the women seem to initiate the hello at least. Perhaps they finally noticed I was no longer making any effort? Who knows?