Being new is hard. I’ve lived it, I’ve loved it and I’ve hated it. Becoming part of a new community is no easy feat. I want to share what I’ve learned from it because I think there are others who might relate.
So this is for you…the one who moved thousands of miles from anyone you know and find yourself in a new community, new church, a new world. Or for the person who’s in that next stage of life. Where your kids are growing up right before your eyes and there is nothing you can do to slow time down… and you feel it deeply. Maybe you are the new face in a church where you long for community yet look around a sea of new faces that all know each other or have family here or are in a place where they don’t need another friend… and you just feel alone, new.
Let me start at the beginning… so here’s little ol’ me, oldest of 7 kids, grew up in the same place my whole life. Then I meet this amazing man who whisks me off my feet and we get married. He accepts a job 2200 miles away from everything I’ve ever known. Talk about leaving and cleaving. That first year was tough, but it also brought us closer than ever. Since then, we’ve moved 4 more times across the country. New home, new jobs, new bank accounts, new church, new everything. Always the newbies.
That first year is an adjustment. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly and there are new faces everywhere you go. It’s wonderful and exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. You also mourn what you left behind. The friendships, the comfort, the community you had made is now gone. As the days and months go by you try to figure out where you belong in this new place. Some of my greatest friendships in these new places were formed over coffee and pajamas. The people who became family. The ones you could call for anything. The ones who became like sisters. It broke my heart to say goodbye. But in each place God gave us people to welcome us with open arms.
For those of you who have never been new…this is also for you. Be ready to open your heart and your home to those new people that cross your path. You never know how God might use you in their life, or them in yours. It might be uncomfortable at first. You don’t know much about them and they don’t know much about you. The scary, yet beautiful thing is, you never know where it might lead. So all I ask is for you to be open, be welcoming, be intentional and even allow yourself to be uncomfortable.
This is something I myself have had to work on and God has pushed me WAY outside of my comfort zone. I’m a total introvert by nature and I don’t like uncomfortable situations. But I’ve realized that is life. Life is, and will have, uncomfortable moments, but through those moments God can create amazing opportunities. In a sense, I believe God led me to photography. In my first memories of wanting to become a photographer, it was because I wanted to take beautiful pictures. But as I begin to look back on my career thus far, I realize that photography has introduced me to so many amazing people and has helped this “new” girl make friends just about everywhere we go. Becoming part of a new community isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
If you struggle with being new, in some capacity, I highly recommend the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. And I invite you to take one little step by meeting someone for coffee that you’ve never gotten together with before. You are also welcome to join my Women Empowering Women group that meets the last Wednesday of every month at 12:30pm at Studio Joy in Ripon. Just take one small step and you never know where it might lead.