Saturday, December 08, 2007

We all want to belong | Fit in!

This came from the Director of Community at a church in the Midwest. It was a wake up call to be aware of the obvious - and aware that people matter and want to belong. It's up to us to help facilitate that.

"At 8:15 this past Sunday morning, I see this guy wandering in the area near staff mailboxes and the bathrooms. He doesn't seem like he's waiting for anyone. He doesn't stop anyone to ask for direction. (I was one of at least 3 people who walked by him.) He is definitely looking around. Yeah, he is out of place. I don't stop him. I don't inquire. I just noticed. (Not my proudest Director of Community moment!)

Less than 5 minutes later, I now see him in the atrium wandering but definitely uncomfortable. The only other people are a few staff and volunteer leaders setting up for the day, and some GCC regulars meeting early for coffee. He stood out again. He's looking around. Weird. What is he doing?

Wait. He's making a move. He starts walking toward the exit doors with determination. For whatever reason, I now decide that if he has just stalked the place, I should probably say something to let him know he was noticed.

Just as he's opening the second set of doors to reach the cold air, I reach him. "Can I help you find anything?" With a slight dialect of another language, "Well, I was supposed to serve today. It was my first time, but I can't find where I'm supposed to go. So..." Feeling like a complete schmuck, "Ohhhh. We can find the team. Let me help you." Within 2 minutes, we found the team leader, made the introduction, and poof! Connection made! I saw him later that morning serving confidently.

People are uncomfortable when they take a step. It's new. They don't know what to expect. They don't do what seems obvious to us who are already connected. Really! Yes, I know it doesn't make sense. Virtually everyone in the building at that time could have helped him. He only needed to ask. He did not feel comfortable to stop anyone.

Taking a step is a big deal. I want to be noticed - to be significant - to connect - to fit in. At the same time, I don't want to be noticed as different - as not fitting in. I am glad I had this glimpse into the experience of our people. It gives me passion to do all that we can to make it easy for them."

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