Moving III - being new means giving up your past
Starting as a 'newie' is easier when you join something where everyone else is also new. It might be uni, college, or being in the new cast of a play in a drama group. Everyone else is in the same boat, and it’s like a bit of a fresh start.
But where people already have history together, you have to accept that you are the one who will have to fit in with them. How is this possible? I think through humility, by having a ‘learner’ attitude and to a certain extent, giving up your past and its importance in your life.
Michelle and her husband moved to the city so that he could train in ministry. They moved away from all their friends and family and Michelle particularly felt the loss of her best friends. She tried to keep up with them as much as possible by phone and by making the hour-long trip home whenever she could. She put in a lot of effort to keep their friendships going.
However she began to notice a distance in her relationship with her friend. They would hold a party and not invite Michelle and her husband. They asked other people to be godparents to their new babies. Michelle felt sad and rejected. She put a lot of energy into a long-distance relationship but could see it falling apart despite her best efforts.
Michelle began to spend more time with the people around her to meet her needs for friendship and relationships. Over time she realized that her original friendships would have to be given up to a certain extent, and new friendships embraced if she was going to stay happy and connected to the present life.
Michele discovered that to survive the future, you’ve got to give up your past in many ways, and start living in the present as much as possible.
This is where saying goodbye effectively comes in. If we have not said goodbye, and we are still living in the past, things going to be much harder.
Of course living in the present is not easy. It can make you feel core-less, root-less and like a pretender, while you go through time, building history and internalising it with others. But the bad feelings don't last, especially if you can understand the reasons why you feel that way.
Don’t just suppress your past. Allow your past to be grieved. Enjoy it with some others as often as you can but don’t continue to live there. You need to say goodbye to the old so you have room for the new. If you’re trying to hold on to the old tightly with both hands, you’ll stay there. You can’t grow into the future.
Do all your experiences have to go out the window? Do you ever get to talk about what you’ve experienced? Yes, sometimes, but not all the time.
People here and now resent always being compared to the former situation.
When we go on about our previous experiences, it can give the impression that the person we’re talking to is not important.
I met an American exchange student at University who was really nice, and I wanted to get to know her but she had the habit of talking about “All my really good friends back home in Virginia.” In the end it was irritating. I thought, "well – if you like them so much, go back to them.”
Settling in well depends on you doing your part and the people around you being friendly. Sometimes this works really well. James joined a church at the beginning of the year and by March he seemed like part of the furniture. He had a naturally friendly personality, he went to everything and he was lucky enough to come into a group which welcomed and wanted him.
Sometimes this just will not happen. Kerry and her husband joined a new church and looked for a Bible study group. They were put in a group with other young couples like themselves but everyone in the group had been friends together for at least 10 years. While they were polite, they were not interested in being close. After persisting for several years, Kerry and her husband found a new group.
Sometimes it's impossible to try to penetrate a group of close friends. It's better to give them up and look around for other people who are feeling on the edge like yourself. There is always someone else who is looking for a friend.