The last eight years feel like they were one continual transition. Three cross-country moves and two cross-city moves have made our family the new members in communities numerous times. Even now, as we settle into the city that my husband and I grew up in, we are the newbies yet again as we seek to get acclimated to our church community, our children’s school community, and our larger civic community.
Here are a few things our family learned in these last eight years of being the new people in a community.
- On any given day we feel welcomed.
- On any given day we feel isolated and alone.
- On any given day we might feel #1 and #2 at the same time or within minutes of each other.
- At some point down the road, though, we know we won’t feel new anymore, but just part of the community.
- And #4 is what keeps us showing up, knowing that that day WILL come.
The impact of experiencing both isolation and welcome as a new community member is a significant one, and it changes the way I act as a member of any community I am part of. When I am the new person in the community, I remind myself of these five things daily. They encourage me to keep putting myself out there, to introduce myself, and to get involved. One day I will not be the newbie but the established community member.
When I am a person established in a community, I remind myself that there is always someone in my community who is new and is experiencing one of the five points. This reminder makes me keep my eyes open for new faces, for people standing off in corners, or for those longing to be welcomed. For I know it is only through people of the community reaching out to them that these newbies will one day feel welcomed as we once did too, and then they will become the ones reaching out and welcoming others.
Yes. you are so right! As one who has a hearing difficulty it is not always easy to join in. Two churches in my area with two different approaches: the first invites newcomers to make themselves known to the priest – yeah right when he is surrounded by folks who have known him for years – whilst the second says any difficulty finding your way round the service sheet just ask your neighbour we are always willing to help. Which church would you wish to attend?