Have you ever been the "odd man out"?
This weekend my daughter and I were involved in a setting where we were the among the 30 some-odd new people in a setting where most of the 200 people gathered knew each other. It was uncomfortable at times... Mind you, we didn't feel slighted, just somewhat detached.
As we drove home last night I asked her about it, and I must admit that I was surprised at her response. She didn't have much to say about the people who overlooked her or about feeling left out. Rather, her response was quickly centered on the 3 specific people who, over the course of the project, reached out to her and included her whenever they were around. As she spoke, I realized how much those three teenage girls meant to my child... how they validated her as a part of the "community"... how they made her transition into the group a little less awkward.
As a father, I was touched that there were kids who went out of their way to be nice to my child. Then, in much the same way that I was trying to help my daughter "connect the dots" about what they had done for her, God showed me something new: I started thinking about all the new people coming to BVBC... I thought about what it must feel like for the new people who visit our church to come in amongst hundreds who already know each other and have well-established relationships.... how hard it could be to find your niche. To be honest, my family seemed to miss that hurdle in coming to BVBC, but joining a new church as staff is not the same as coming as a member.
Here's the bottom line: This whole experience made me mindful once again of what it feels like to be a newcomer in in a large established group. It reminded me how we have the opportunity to include others into the body every time we gather. It reminded me how special a single person can be when they help someone else bridge the gap. I can name for you the three children who made my daughter feel special over the last 8 - 10 weeks. I want to be that kind of person for someone else. How about you?