Community Over Cliques

I never want to be one of those bloggers that only share the high moments that I experience, especially considering I JUST posted a piece on sharing your story. Not that Love&Society is my journal, but in light of transparency, it's only right that I share all experiences, not just good moments. 

So, yesterday I hit a low.

I'm at a BBQ after church, having a conversation with my Pastor about the ministry that I'm involved in (Young Adults). It's a casual conversation, nothing deep or serious, kind of like a checking in moment, ie: how's the ministry doing, how can we help, etc. But the biggest takeaway that I got from the conversation was not the advice she gave (though helpful) but of the story of two ladies who came to Young Adults looking for help and we failed them. The details of their story don't matter but they came for help and we as a community didn't help them. They were looking for a way in, and couldn't find one. We failed to pull our sisters in, probably at their lowest when we should have been pulling them in the closest.

How did we as leaders (which we all are) dropped the ball on this one? How did a room full of Christians miss this?

And then it hit me.

Our community is strong.

Which you're probably thinking, wait, I thought that was a good thing. Which it is... until it turns from community to cliques. 

Something that I've noticed that I have been actively working on, is that church can get a bit cliquey. I, Davina McGill, can be a bit cliquey. It's so easy to come in, sit in the same place and say hello to the same people because these are the people I'm familiar with. I know them, we're friends, conversation is easy. But we were never called to an easy life, so lately, I've been making an active point to hang out with more people and different circles. Not that I need to be Miss Social Butterfly, but staying in my little box of friends does not help anyone.

Being a military brat, I've moved around more times than I can count at this point and I am all too familiar with being "the new girl". I don't care how many times you're "the new girl", it's still not easy integrating yourself into a well established group. It's scary and uncomfortable and unfortunately if no one from that group initially reaches out to pull you in, it can be a long process to feel like you belong.

Yesterday, before leaving the BBQ, as I was saying my goodbyes, my friend's mom says to me: "We know your family is up north but whenever you want to stop by, you're always welcomed over here anytime."

I'm always grateful for the ones who go the extra mile to make me feel included. The ones who actually stop and make sure that I feel welcomed. Since moving to Florida, so many friends and their families have all essentially said the same thing: you are always welcomed in our family. If that's not a perfect example of the love that Christ has for us, then I don't know what is. 

Living this Christian life means living a life more and more like Jesus everyday. And you know what I know about Jesus: Jesus was mixxy, he hung out with everyone. The sick, the blind, the lame, the liars, the murders, the cheaters and the adulterers. It didn't matter. Jesus was the ultimate example of : you can sit with me, you are always welcomed in my family. So we as Christians should also be modeling that. 

Not that cliques are "wrong". I'm not looking to define right and wrong right now, but cliques can become dangerous in environments that are built to be welcoming. The definition of clique is: a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. How can the environment be welcoming if we do not readily allow others to join us. And that's NOT we should be about. Everyone should feel welcomed and safe. 

Thankfully, the conversation with my pastor had a happy ending. They came back and were able to get connected in, but even in that happy ending, I can't help but wonder how many other stories are similar to that. How many other times have we, have I, dropped the ball on making others feel included and welcomed. 

So this is my low right now.

Yet, I'm learning and I'm growing so this is also me doing my part, transparent and all making a statement to do better to make others feel welcomed. And hopefully this has encouraged someone to join in the journey with me.