Have you ever held onto something someone said to you or did to you and allowed it to AFFECT you for years and years?
I want to share with you about why some of my passions are more intentional or more over the top than others. And, why during this new season of life, it is important to me to be authentically and intentionally in the lives of others.
I will never forget when I decided to get back involved in the local church when I was in my mid-twenties. I started attending Houston’s FBC’s singles ministry program. I was ready to make some new friends, who were single like me, and who were walking with the Lord. I was at a point in my life when I needed community, and to be at a place where I felt like I belonged. I did not grow up in Houston so I was not known by many of the others there. There are two incidents that happened during my time in this singles department. I remember walking into a huge room, for the first time, not knowing a single person there and everyone was talking among their friends and having a good time. There I was feeling–unwanted, unimportant, scared, and literally out of my comfort zone! I was standing there by myself with no one to talk to. None of the others were reaching out to me, welcoming me or even acknowledging me. I truly felt like an outsider. A few months later, in August 1997, I decided to attend a church retreat at Glorietta in New Mexico. Again, hoping to make some new friends. I drove up with two girls who I wanted to get to know better. We hung out together for parts of the retreat but not really connecting or engaging in any deep conversations with each other. On the way home I sat in the back seat listening to these two girls talk about their lives. Neither of them even attempted to include me in the conversation or ask questions about me and my life, not ONCE. I felt invisible! The whole drive home I felt lonely! I went home and cried like a baby.
These two similar occurrences affected me for years. I remember thinking to myself that I never want to be a person who would ever make someone else feel like I did. I have always been a social person so to feel excluded was really uncomfortable for me. I made a decision at that moment that I would always “Be the Person” who would make others feel invited, welcome, and included. I took this opportunity to reverse the pain I was feeling to ensure others would not experience the same pain I did. Not at church, not in my home, not in small groups, not at the park, not at school, not at work…NO where! Yes, I would share love with everyone!
Fast forward…20 years! My passion is to love others and to be very intentional if I see someone new at my church, at my kids school, at the park, or wherever I am to introduce myself and make them them feel welcome. On many occasions I have exchanged phone numbers and have connected people I have met with someone else who may have a common interest with them. And, at times I have even found some people who have become really amazing CLOSE friends! All it takes is me introducing myself, saying hello, and letting them know they are welcome. In bible study classes I have invited someone new to sit at my table, breaking the ice to let them know again they are welcome.