Sunday, November 24, 2019

Where everybody knows my name

I've mentioned before that I've been attending two of the churches in our small town each Sunday.  Stay with me here, I'm not trying to persuade you, my dear readers, to do what I'm doing.  I want to tell you what I've discovered about myself in the process.

How many times have my long-time readers seen on my blog the phrase "I'm a loner"?  Surely I've typed it into a few entries.  I've mentioned it many times on Facebook, and I tell people the same thing face to face.   But I'm learning something about myself during these last few months:  I may not be so much a loner as simply "socially awkward". 

Oh, I do value my alone time.  Growing up, I learned to enjoy my own company.  Throughout my first eight years in rural Iowa, there weren't many opportunities to play with other children.  Until I was five, I was my own best friend, and had no problem with that.  So once I started going to the one-room schoolhouse, I was already somewhat peculiar.  I know this because other kids didn't flock around me at recess.  One little girl told me I talked too loud (I still do, but at least that trait now serves a purpose, since Cliff is about half deaf).  Isn't it strange how a seventy-five-year-old woman would remember such things, and isn't it peculiar how it still hurts just a little?

And that's how the Internet drew me in.  I discovered a Christian chat room on AOL and made friends there.  Sometimes I even felt like the life of the party.  We began having chat reunions and met one another in person, so some of our Internet friends became real-life friends.  Many of those kind people have died now, but I still have Joanna, whom I claim as a sister.  We don't talk often, but we are there for one another when we are going through things.  I spent a week with her in her home near Washington, DC, and saw some of the local sites I would never have seen, if not for her.  She is much more than an "Internet friend".

The chat room group gradually disbanded; I left AOL.  Many years later, Facebook happened, and I re-connected with some of my old friends and made some new ones... online friends, that is, but there was once again that feeling that "somebody knows I'm here".  I went crazy, really.  A person can be very social online, and turn off the party when she's had enough.  I didn't have to clean house or entertain people to have a social life!  It was an ideal situation, I thought. 

All it really amounted to was this:  somebody knew I was alive.

It's worked pretty well for me all these years, but after stepping into these two small-town churches, I've realized something:  It's nice to have some real people to talk to, people who are glad to see me every time I walk through the door because when there are only fifteen of them, one person makes a big difference in the size of a crowd. 

I'll have to skip the Methodist Church this morning because the Baptist Church is having their Thanksgiving dinner after the service.  I'm taking Old Settler's beans, Cliff, and Heather, the grandson's wife.  Yes, Cliff volunteered to go to church this Sunday.  Why?  Because the preacher's wife said to tell him to come in and eat with us, since he comes to pick me up at church anyway.  

Cliff likes to eat, you know.  However, he said he didn't feel right just walking in for a meal.  So he is going to church too.  It'll be a one-time thing, I imagine, but at least the folks can meet the mysterious stranger who, along with my dog, is always waiting for me in the car after church.   I do hate being absent from the Methodist Church today, because I've made a friend who sits in the pew behind me every Sunday.  She was a school-teacher long ago.  We have some nice chats.  Her name is Patty.  She knows a lot about the history of Wellington.  Three generations of her family have attended that church.  She likes sitting behind me because she enjoys looking at my naturally curly hair, which makes her think about her curly-haired brother when he was a child.

As all these thoughts were running through my mind this morning, the theme song from "Cheers" came to mind.  Now, I didn't know all the lyrics to that song, although I never missed an episode of the show.  But I did recall the words in the title:  "Where everybody knows your name".

And that, my friends, is what draws me back to two churches of differing denominations every Sunday.  Not all my beliefs line up with either congregation, but it seems like God is in both of them, small in numbers as they are.  I keep my mouth shut about theological differences, because my opinion, after all, is just another opinion.  That and a dollar might buy you a cup of coffee.  But after sitting at home on Sunday for years or else going to larger churches where I felt invisible, there are two places where I am welcomed heartily and everybody knows my name... make that three.  And many of the people at a fourth one might vaguely remember me.


6 comments:

Jon said...

It's a shame that nowadays the term "loner" is most often associated with weirdos and serial killers. Much like you, I've always considered myself to be a loner. This possibly comes from the fact that I was an only child. I've always enjoyed my own company and never needed other people in order to feel whole.

This doesn't mean I'm a misanthrope. We all need other human beings in our lives - but I'm comfortable being alone. And - like you - I'm socially awkward. This may seem hard to believe - since at one time (when I was young) I had an extremely active social life when I lived in Hollywood. But I was never comfortable in crowds and never the life of the proverbial party.
At this point in my life, I'm very content being a loner.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I'm glad you found a place where everyone knows your name. Some churches can be unfriendly places but yours are not. Ours isn't either and I've been going there well over 50 years now and a lot of people do know my name. The important thing ai thing is that we also make others feel welcome . We pretty much occupy the same pew ever Sunday, but that doest mean I get ups set if someone else comes in before me and gts th pew before me. Happy Sunday! Hope you get some rest and relaxation in at some point today.

Sister--Three said...

Well, FB is growing on me. Friends you don’t even know is sort of a double negative. I see lots of double negatives there. One day a person posts about prayer and Jesus and next day they post naked sex pictures and foul words. Most folks have no “core beliefs” is what I see as their problem. They are dangling, swinging back and forth, hitting one wall and then the other. If you have a set of strong beliefs when others believe different from you it isn’t a large problem. I don’t seek friends but do accept those sent to me. I draw the line with the “witches”.. there are actually people that worship satan. I unfriend them. I have had 2. I am so naive. Had no idea they were out there, but they are.

So glad to be your “friend”!!

Margaret said...

I enjoy social media mostly, and I take myself away from it when I start getting upset, worried or angry. I like the interaction and the heartwarming videos, as well as seeing what's going on in people's lives, even the ones who live close to me. It's fascinating to share in my friends' trips and their daily happenings. I'm far from a loner, but I do like my alone time. I need space from others sometimes. Many people think that I'm a complete extrovert, but they are very wrong. I've always called myself an outgoing introvert. I'm happy that you've found some churches that you enjoy attending, and have friends who know your name (and face!)A dollar for coffee?? I need to move there!! :)

The Feminine Energy said...

Oh Donna, you have perfectly put into words what is in my head too. I mean EXACTLY what's in my head!!! You miss the old AOL chatroom days and I miss the old email Yahoo Groups. Did you partake in those too? Before Yahoo Groups I remember putting out a "digest" from my own email program. Ladies would send me posts, I'd compile them into one, and send the digest to everyone on the mailing list. How FUN that was!!! I've even gone to yahoogroups-dot-com to see if it still exists... and it does but doesn't look very active. I don't like Facebook, I must admit. I long for the "good ole days" of the internet. I'm so glad blogs have still hung on. Love, Andrea xoxo

Lori said...

Very nice post. I'm glad you are finding real life connections like these as well the online ones. And we're never to old to learn something about ourselves.