breaking out

>> May 4, 2010

I always thought of myself as an outgoing person before I became a pastor’s wife. I dove head first into being a partner to my husband, attending meetings with him and trying to pull together events. I quickly became discouraged and disillusioned by “culture shock” and found it harder and harder open myself up and play the social butterfly. After three years in our district, I’m ashamed to say there are many people I’ve never gotten to know.

I recently experienced a pangs of guilt as watched the familiar figure of a single dad with his two bored-looking kids file into the pew in front of me. I had never talked to them. The boy, about 12 with freckles and spiky blond hair, had made himself infamous by making rude and disrespectful comments to some of the other patrons. The girl always looked like she had just crawled out of bed with a vacant stare and rumpled hair.

After the service I overheard the father trying in vain to talk his kids into coming into the fellowship hall for lunch. The kids sauntered around like they didn’t care. “Are you guys going to come in?” I asked.

To my surprise they immediately said, “Sure,” and walked right inside.

I found myself near the girl once inside. I guess I’d been too intimidated by these kids to be friendly. So I forged ahead and started asking the girl questions. I had never ever learned her name. I was again pleasantly surprised by how easily she opened up, and by what I learned about her. It was so neat to see how the kids and the people sitting around them opened up and chatted during lunch.

The same afternoon we went out to a grassy spot by the lake with some other church members. In attendance was a family we hadn’t gotten to know well. This particular church has been divided by prejudices which had prevented some valuable friendships from forming. It was beautiful to watch walls begin to come down after so much strife and prayer.

A few days later I was surprised to get an e-mail from the couple’s daughter, a girl who came across as sullen and superior. Even though I always suspected she was just shy, I’d never been successful in drawing her out. Now she was writing me a little note, a casual hand reached across the gap to make friends. I felt honored and motivated to pull down my own barriers and try harder to find the hearts buried in the people around me. Why does it take so long?

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