It’s probably never a good idea to go on a public forum of any kind and throw other Christians under the bus when you are emotional… but I am going to do it anyway. I mentioned to a friend yesterday that I will bet her five dollars, actually this is what I said.
I got five on me talking to more women at the bar tomorrow night at some online friends stand up show then I did tonight at womens bible study
I know that I am not the only woman in the church that has experienced something like this in their lifetime and that is not to say it ONLY happens with women in the church, so don’t get all pissy about me calling THEM out exclusively. However; shouldn’t it seem that the very last place you should expect for their to be stuck up, unwelcoming, unfriendly women who don’t speak to, look at or even acknowledge the existence of a newbie in their bible study would actually be in the church?
This is an issue that I have struggled with for 24 years that I can think of. When I was about 14 or 15 I decided to go along with my mother to a mid week service that she was working in the nursery for, and I thought I’d go check out the youth group and see what it’s like. I remember it being very confusing because I had gone on a day that they weren’t really doing anything structured, I believe it was some sort of “back to school” outdoor thing and having known no one and feeling horribly insecure and out of place because it was obvious all these other kids were great friends and very comfortable with each other, I sort of took a few steps back and ended up on a picnic table by myself just sort of watching and secretly hoping to God I would NOT begin to cry because I had never felt so stupid and lonely in my entire life.. It was such an ugly feeling that I am seriously welling up with tears as I type this out just as I do every time I tell this stupid story. Needless to say it has been about 26 years since that happened and I have YET to experience anything different from the women at this church.
Now, in all fairness I don’t believe it is JUST at this church, I have seen it happen… well. Crap. There was a time not too long ago where we had recently decided to leave this smaller church and go back to the big church and I was invited to be a sub at a bunco that some of the “head honcho wives” had and that was the only other time I have felt like I did that day at the high school youth group. But it IS a problem within the church because I know several other women who, when I talk to them about these sorts of situations they tell me they have had similar experiences as well.
What is up with that? Why do you suppose women are that way? And not just women but Christian women who love the Lord, who are there to learn about Him more and to bond with other women, how could they be so heartless? How could they honestly let a new person to their class who is probably completely uncomfortable because she is walking in, by herself, to a room full of people she probably doesn’t know because she didn’t stop to talk to anyone and she went to the furthest side of the room and sat by herself. And then when the leader asks them all if they made the newbies feel welcome, how could they honestly sit there and nod and say yes they did, when they are lying out of their teeth? I seriously sat a chair away from another woman who never even said hello but she looked straight into the face of the leader, who by the way, was so amazingly welcoming and loving I could not have possibly been any more grateful that she was the first person I saw when I walked in the door. But this woman next to me looked her straight in the face and said “yes” that she did welcome the new comers, one of which was sitting RIGHT next to her that she completely ignored.
This has ALWAYS been an issue for me all the years I have attended this church that I absolutely love. It feels like home when I am away, it is comfortable and safe and I have to wonder if that is because I can walk in there and walk out completely unnoticed. Knowing that I am able to do that on a weekly basis should raise a flag that “you are probably not going to have a different experience in a smaller setting so don’t even expect that” but I want to expect that and I hate the thought that if they can have that effect on me, especially for as long as it has gone on, that must mean they are doing the same to other women and shame to think women who are new and have never been to a bible study before and will more than likely never go back because how awful to be so ignored by a bunch of Christians who are called to be loving and kind.
I am not going to let that night keep me from going again. I will be there again next week and I will pay attention to notice if when asked if there are any newbies that are sitting alone I will go and either sit with them in the middle of whatever is going on at the time or I will at the very least just make sure to get their attention and say hello with a smile because NONE of those women could be bothered to offer that to me and I don’t want to be one of them, ever.
I don’t feel like it is my place to call them out and a great part of me wonders if it’s “just me” taking offense when I shouldn’t be, and I could see how my mind, being the way it functions, would play games like that with me or how the enemy would take advantage of the situation and make me question these “Christians”, except that this has ALWAYS been my experience here. If I don’t go with someone that I personally know to an event or a bible study or something, there is a very good chance I will not be approached by one single person and will not speak a single word to anyone unless I am the one who reaches out and maybe that is what I am supposed to do with these experiences. Maybe I am suppose to get out of my comfort zone and do some reaching because Lord knows none of those people are going to and again, I don’t want to be grouped in with “those people”. I can take this experience as an eye opener and an opportunity to let the Lord fill me with confidence that I clearly don’t have and be on mission to make sure that other people that I am around and near NEVER have to feel like I do.
Truth be told I’m not really sure HOW to get my head into that kind of game but I think by not letting last nights ignorance keep me from returning, I am definitely on the right road to getting there. This should be quite interesting to say the least.