I have always considered myself an introvert, and to some extent, I still do. I always preferred staying in rather than going out. I would get excited when plans were canceled last minute and it meant I could stay in my PJs all day. I didn’t mind spending an entire week barely leaving the house or interacting with anyone other than my husband. I thought I was the kind of person who just “didn’t need friends.” But I was wrong.
I have never really had a solid church community consisting of people in the same life stage as me. I was a shy kid and did not make friends easily in Sunday school. I didn’t really enjoy youth group either, so I hardly went. The young adults group I was a part of only existed for a few short years. Because the church I grew up in was relatively small, I, unfortunately, did not find a lasting community there.
So when I got married and Jefferson and I began attending the church he was an intern at, I got used to the idea that maybe I would never find my community at church.
When we first got married, Jefferson had not even finished his undergrad yet, and he was still in the process of interning at a church. I knew from our other friends in ministry that the first few years in ministry quite often consistent of…moving around. A lot. And that was our experience. As someone who seriously longs for stability, this was hard for me to grapple with. As someone who tends to retreat during stressful times, I never had the opportunity to “come out of my shell” because I knew that new church family was only a temporary family.
Over and over I told myself “I don’t need friends. I don’t need community.” But I was wrong. I began struggling with my faith and with what the church was. I soon realized I couldn’t do this alone anymore – and that it was never meant to be done alone. Sunday mornings became an isolating experience rather than a place of love and friendship and family – and I was tired of that. But I didn’t know what to do, or if that would ever change.
When Jefferson was still in the interview process at ForestView, we visited one Sunday morning. I knew something was different. I can’t explain it, but everything finally felt right. I felt at home. I felt like my own walls, the walls that had “you’ll never make friends” and “you’ll never find community” written all over them started to crumble.
This crumbling process has taken some time, though. Every time I begin to make new connections, I feel myself pulling back a bit. I am scared. Scared to make great connections and then have those friendships ripped away. Scared to open myself up to new people. Scared of rejection. That little voice inside keeps telling me, “You don’t need friends. If you don’t make friends, you won’t get hurt when you leave.”
But I have finally accepted that I do need friends. I do need community. It was time for the walls I had been building for 25 years to finally come down – and slowly but surely they are.