It’s awkward to come back, isn’t it?!
We have all been in that position: we have stayed away from church, a book group, a fitness class, or coffee gathering for so long that it feels awkward to come back. We dread facing all the “Where have you been?,” “Thought you forgot about us!,” etc.
A simple “Well, hello there, stranger.” or “Long time, no see!” sounds like someone shouting an accusation across the room while a spotlight descends on YOU!
Yep. It does feel that way. No one can talk you out of that feeling. And perhaps, if you are among those who are hesitant to come back, you can hear another truth. You are missed. (You are. It’s true.) And you are wanted.
Truth is, sometimes we go away for a while. We fall out of the habit. We need a break. We were hurt or put off by something and need to step away.
There really is no “not awkward” way through that first gauntlet back. For the simple reason that people miss you and are happy to see you! And they will express that happiness gracefully and gracelessly! Be assured that no one thinks less of you or mutters over your absence behind your back. (At least not in front of Pastor Peter or me!)
It is true, someone might say: “Are you new?” They themselves might be new or might simply have never met you. We can offer each other a lot of grace. We are a big church and it’s impossible to know everyone. So, when we see a new face, maybe we can gently ask: “Have we met yet?” And we can receive the inquiry gently. We are all trying to make a human connection!
Over the last few months, I have met several of you back in the building for the first time in years. THAT IS THE BEST NEWS! We want you back! Not your money. Not your muscles. YOU. Our brother, sister, sibling in Christ.
And if you are thinking about coming back, it means you need us, too. We need each other. So, let’s wade through the awkward, and bear up under the uncomfortable, well-meaning stuff. You are important. And you can step back in. Awkwardness and all. Because we are the body of Christ and belong to each other.
You matter. There is room for you here. Please come home.