This morning gave me a sharp reminder of how disconnected I feel from…well, from a lot of people in my life, but particularly from my church family. My church, TcD, is a place of incredible faith and community, yet I don’t think I’d really be missed if I left. It’s not that other church members haven’t made the effort to get to know me–many have reached out and encouraged me, prayed for me, even simply chatted with me for a few minutes after a worship gathering. No, I place the blame for the disconnect on myself. I don’t participate regularly in one of the many weekly community groups, I rarely go to church holiday parties, I don’t invite people over for dinner…I am honestly surprised that I have any relationship with my church family at all.
What brought on this sense of exclusion? Well, yet another dear member is leaving our church body and moving on…this one is because she’s getting married and moving away. In the three years my husband and I gave been a part of TcD, we’ve seen at least half a dozen people and couples leave for career, marriage, church planting, etc. The last three or four times it has happened, we’ve come away from their last Sunday service pondering our own place in this church. We’ve watched our pastor and about half the congregation (ourselves included) get choked up as they pray and send off these brothers and sisters, and we wonder, if the day comes for us to move away from DeKalb, what will they say about us? Who will care enough to say goodbye on our last day?
I know that God doesn’t intend for my husband and me to just show up on Sunday mornings and the occasional community group meeting without ever truly engaging with the Christian body He has given us. We don’t want that either. Every time someone else moves away, we miss them and the roles they fill in our church life. We want our friends at TcD to notice if and when we’re gone. We want to be missed. We want our absence to be felt.
Will this morning provide the necessary inspiration and drive for me (and my husband) to change our solitary habits and become more a part of our church? I hope so. However, we feel like we’ve been “burned” in a way, because several of the families that have left us behind were the very people we had actually become closest to. We start to question, why bother getting close to someone if they’re likely to leave us soon? If we let that fear be our guide, we won’t really be living. So I hope that we will remember that some people come into our lives only for a season, and that doesn’t make those relationships any less valuable. We need to let others in. We need to trust God and that He has put us where we are for a purpose.