Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Bekki and I am an extreme extrovert. This means,the more I am with people, the more natural I feel. The more I interact, the more energy I have. What do I hate the most? Being alone. It isn’t that I can’t be alone, its more that prolonged alone-ness sucks the life out of me. When I moved to D.C., I said goodbye to good friends, a thriving social circle, a good job, and a church community. After spending almost a year searching for church and employment, I found myself incredibly isolated, and extremely exhausted.
Then I found the Table. For the first time in a long time I felt like I had community again. A breath of fresh air in the midst of a rather stale life. However, being the newbie isn’t easy. It is great to meet new people, begin to establish new relationships, forge connections, but the journey from encounter to community isn’t quick. It takes time and investment, and the starved extrovert in me was finding patience a burden. I liked the people I was meeting. I liked the community I was seeing. I wanted so much to be a part of it, RIGHT NOW.
Confession time: There were moments when I just wanted to ask people “Please. Can you just like me. Please?”
At about week three of my attendance at the Table, I was getting ready to leave my house. I breathed this rather desperate prayer. “Jesus, please let someone ask me to join them for dinner after church.” I was so grateful when some fellow newbies extended a dinner invitation to me, and we had a lovely meal getting to know each other better. I went home breathing “Thank you.”
A couple weeks later, after a somewhat maudlin week of missing friends and struggling on the job search, I was preparing to go to church again. Again I prayed a prayer asking for someone to invite me to dinner. This time was different. This time it hit me just how demanding this prayer was. Yes, I had a need and a desire, but was I the only one? A number of years ago I read the Message translation of Matthew 7:12. It had stuck with me for a long time, and now it came flooding back to me now.
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.”
What was I asking for? Connection, community, being noticed and included. Could I do that for someone else? It means moving, not waiting for someone to come and meet my needs. It means getting beyond what I want, and focusing on someone else instead.
Revelation: If I want community, I have to be community.
That night I chose to be a part of the Table. I chose to welcome someone else instead of expecting to be welcomed. I chose to get to know others instead of expecting others to get to know me. I figured out what I wanted, and invited someone else out to eat after the service.
It was hard, but it was worth it.
I decided not to wait for this community to chose me. Instead, I decided to become a part of this community. The Table is my church now, and I have the privilege of being to others the kind church I want to be a part of.
Confession: I probably will pray that prayer again. Hopefully, I will again remember, in the midst of my needs and wants, to go do, not sit and wait.