I have just recently started working a new church in December 2016.
It is lovely congregation, small, older, traditional and kind. I am the age of most of the congregants grandchildren. So far, everything is going great.
Yet, when starting at a new church it can get very overwhelming and isolating. Overwhelming because you are constantly learning a new system, sub-culture, and way of being. Isolating because all the relationships you have in that community are in the “getting to know you” stage. The church does not know you and you do not know the church. Which, even for this extrovert, can be really tiring.
What’s fascinating about this church in particular is what I represent at this point in the life of the church. Because it is older this church is constantly aware that they do not have any “young people” and are worried that they are going to die off. When they hired me, a 33 year old, unmarried woman, most just assumed that the young people would come pouring into the building.
They were all very sad when I had to break the news that it just doesn’t work like that.
A Difficult Difference
To most of the congregation I represent change in a great way. There is possibility and hope for growth. However, I represent change. Therefore, I am also a threat to some because my very presence means that things will not remain the same. It’s a heavy mantle to carry.
After my third month on the job, I broke. I was done carrying that mantle. I was tired of being the target of fear-based reactions by just being in a room. I was tired of not being seen as myself. I was tired of not being known and not knowing anyone well. I was tired.
So I ran away.
I just needed to be seen by someone who knows me, knows what I am capable of, and knows that I am more than the mantle I carry. I jumped in my car and drove two hours to my former church. I knew I could make the evening service if I left right after the service I just finished.
I walked through the familiar doors and was immediately bombarded with hugs, smiles and How are you’s, I finally got to a seat and the worship started. I started to cry. I was flooded with thanksgiving for this church and the community there.
This church was my first big ministry gig. I was there for five years. In more ways than I can count this church shaped me into the leader, pastor, and woman I am today. When I worked there it was a lovely place to be but there was something different walking onto the campus this day. It changed into something more. It was sacred in a new way. This church is now my Sacred Space of Being Known.
This community loved on me so well.
They reminded me that I am capable and have all the gifts to be my full self in this new church. They reminded me that it took time for that church to get to know me in the beginning as well. They reminded me that they are so proud of me and that I am so very loved by them. Most importantly, sent me on my way revived, rested, and ready to rock!
There is something absolutely sacred about being known.
For me on that particular day I knew I needed to run away to my Sacred Space of Being Known, so that I can continue to work towards becoming known at my new church. As pastors continue in the hard work of church, I believe that we need to find our Sacred Spaces of Being Known so that we can do our jobs with all of who we are.
Where is you Sacred Space of Being Known? Have you been there lately?
Take good care of yourself. You are helping so many people be seen, known and belong. You deserve the same.