Second Steps Are Tough Too
They always say, the first step is the hardest. Once the momentum gets started after the initial movement sailing is smoother. I would definitely concur. When I wrote the letter officially leaving the UMC it was very difficult. But I must say, second steps aren’t always easy either.
Whenever faced with a new situation, I find myself extremely nervous, particularly when facing it alone. Growing up as a PK I moved a lot and was the new kid at school every few years. I had excitement and hope for the new school year and what I would learn and the opportunities I would have now that I was a year further in my career. However, I was always anxious too about how I would be judged by the other kids. Would I fit in? Is this really the right place for me? Will it be better or worse than the last one? Today felt a lot like that for me.
After a month of religious absenteeism I took the long-awaited second step that followed my withdrawl at the end of July: I visited a new church. In the past it had been a little easier going to a new church because I would be going with my family or I’d know someone else there. But this time it was different. Not only was it someplace totally new, I was going alone without so much as knowing anyone there. It was tough to psych myself up for it.
Arriving was like it would be at any new church: greeters welcoming and directing visitors over to the newcomers table, filling out a name tag, before heading up to the sanctuary for the service. People were much friendlier and seemed more genuinely welcoming than I had experienced elsewhere. The choir was better than most I’ve heard – other than the Marsh Chapel Choir at BU – the sermon was refreshing to listen to (no better or worse than any I’d heard before, necessarily, just different, and in a way that spoke to me more clearly and rang a little more true), and there was a stronger sense of community and yet more openness than I’d felt anywhere else. It was comfortable.
At the potluck lunch following the service I sat by myself, not courageous enough to sit down with total strangers yet. But that didn’t last long. Someone at a neighboring table called me over to join her and her two young children. As she began to clean her little ones up, an older gentleman came over to introduce himself and we ended up chatting for about a half hour or so. He introduced me to the choir director – there always seems to be a shortage of male voices in choirs, particularly basses – and the pastor. All in all, it was an enjoyable time and I felt at ease. There’s something to being totally anonymous too. No one knows who my family is. No one has heard of me before. I come in with a clean slate and people seemed genuinely eager to get to know me.
I’ll be returning next week.