By Ann Hutchison
I smiled as best I could and said, “That’s really nice. Um. Can I just think about it?” She looked puzzled. “Sure.”
Here’s my deal: My husband loves people, and we don’t find it difficult to talk to strangers. But, when it comes to church I personally have a mountain of complexities in my head. Truth be told, the idea of us going to a church friend’s house made me feel sick with nerves. Why on earth, I wonder? This needed to be analysed, and so here’s what I realized:
‘Church’ represented something that came between me and Bryce to such a degree that it jeopardized our marriage. Since then I’ve feared bringing church people into our lives in case it jeopardizes ‘us’ again.
That’s what’s been in my head; and consequently I’ve kept that part of my life neatly separate. Non-Christians have long been my preferred dinner guests because that felt more comfortable. I always thought it was for him, but perhaps it was really about my comfort levels.
That was until a few weeks ago when a chain of events led to us welcoming into our home the pastor and his wife for dinner. This was certainly the crossing of a new frontier, and as they say in space terms, ‘a giant leap for Ann-kind’. Or SUM-kind.
The leap was sparked one night after we’d come home from dinner out with our usual friends. As always, I felt slightly sad from the evening, purely because of the unbelief. You know how it is. It’s normal these days so I didn’t say anything to Bryce, but he could tell. This particular evening, he watched me from across the kitchen and seemed to resonate more than usual. Eventually, he came out with a suggestion:
“I think we should hang out with a wider variety of people. Different kinds of people.”
Wary of seeming like I didn’t love our friends I began to protest, but he pressed me again, suggesting I invite someone new over, and then these words came:
“Why don’t you ask someone from church? Just make sure it’s no one weird, ok?”
Even though I myself am reasonably weird, weirdness seems to be his main concern. So, ok, it seemed we had a deal. And I laughed.
My task was thus set and I thought I’d better do it quickly before I freak and back out. But who at church should I ask? Well, one couple seemed obvious. They had boys the same ages as ours, and the male of the family likes sport, as does my hubby. Importantly, there wasn’t a shred of weirdness there. “Right then,” I decided, drew my phone to me, and did it quickly. I texted an invite and clicked SEND.
Here’s the fun bit: That couple also happen to be the pastors of my little church. So, after they’d texted back “Yes!” I realized this could go one of two ways: Very well, or quite awkwardly.
As I write, the dinner has come and gone, and I’m pleased to report I have a smile on my face. Here’s my spiritual observation of the day: When God gave pastors to the church, they were a gift from Christ. I hadn’t really thought of this before, but on the night it was clear that these two were the perfect ones to be sitting at our table. Pastors have strong, sensitive hearts for people. They were to my right at the table. To my left, there sat Bryce, relaxed and, in true extravert form, enjoying the fact there were some new and interesting people at his table.
Indeed, on the night of the dinner, with so many boisterous boys in the room, our guests, and my cheery husband, the air was filled with chatter. I was left feeling that ‘the church’ had done us some good. In closing, I will say I couldn’t imagine this happening any earlier. However, in God’s perfect timing things happen seamlessly. What a relief!
Now your turn: Have you socialized yet with church friends?