“That church has so many cliques.”
“No one said hello to me….again.”
“People are so selfish!”
These are all things I have heard over and over again in my 15 years of being involved in ministry.
I am hoping to encourage you lonely folks out there by giving you a different perspective.
I went to college in Northern California. I became a believer in Junior College and my first goal when I hit the campus at a “real college” was to get plugged in to a church, preferably one full of college students. I found one! They met on campus on Sundays and I couldn’t wait to go.
I walked in eager to have all these people flocking to me to make me feel welcomed. Um… nobody talked to me. I walked in and out without meeting a soul.
I went back. This time my heart was different. This time I would initiate. And that’s ok. Ya know why? They were like a family already. Some of these people had known each other for years and I couldn’t expect to walk in and be on the same level as them.
So, I introduced myself to numerous people. I did the same the next week. Sometimes to the same people who “forgot my name”. So I re-introduced myself a few weeks in a row. I didn’t quit going and get mad at the cliques. I kept pursuing friendship. I kept telling people my name. I kept going to all the things the church had to offer so that my face went from being unfamiliar to familiar. I went from being unknown to known.
But guess what? I still never really felt like I was part of the in-crowd. Nope. And guess what? I think I have a pretty good idea of why and it’s not because there were so many cliques. Nope. It’s because I was controlling and talked about myself too much.
Marriage has a way of helping us to get rid of some of our rough edges. Suddenly many of the character flaws that no one had the guts to tell me had come to the surface because a spouse has to live with those flaws and they are certainly worth confronting.
As a side note, my husband and I are very purposeful in training our children on how to not be annoying. We tell them when certain behaviors and actions are obnoxious. We tell them we want them to be well-liked and have lots of friends. That’s the loving thing to do.
I for one am thankful for the iron sharpening iron aspect of marriage. My controlling, manipulative nature along with the propensity to talk too much was finally confronted and I am able to see more clearly that the cliques I thought existed were actually an illusion. There was a reason that a certain number of friends of mine were part of the “in -crowd”.
When I look back at those friends I notice some things that they had in common: they asked people questions like: “how are you doing?” and they really wanted to know! They listened well. The didn’t dominate. They weren’t restless. They enjoyed each other and served one another. They stuck around through awkward silence and just hung out.
I can’t help but wonder if some people feel lonely because others don’t have the guts to tell them they don’t want to hang out with them.
I know that was me for years and years and I am thankful for the people who have loved me enough to say: “Katie, it’s not them, it’s you.”
One time I ordered a “household meeting” with my roommates in college. We were going to “get it all out on the table” and tell each other what we really thought so that we could be honest. I let one of my roommates go first and she said to me: “Katie, I hate to come to you with my problems because you lecture me and don’t listen.” I did the mature, godly thing any woman who wants to grow would do: I walked out of the room and got into my car and drove off… um, yeah, so clearly I am amazing at receiving criticism.
We would all do well to listen to others’ criticism and seek to change. That’s the way we grow. If we want people to want to be around us we have to be open to growth and change even if the truth of how we need to change is super painful.
So here are some types of women I know drive people away. Sincerely seek the Lord and see if you fit into one or more of these types and ask the Lord to help you change.
Snarky Susie: This woman is always full of sarcasm. Nothing can ever be taken seriously. All of life is a big joke to her.