When the Greet and Meet Time at Church Freaks you Out

“Turn and greet your neighbor.” A simple request heard in churches every weekend.

For some this request is greeted with dread.

Not everyone in a church meeting wants to acknowledge, let alone shake hands with the stranger next to them. The very thought can send them running to hide in the restroom.

Most times I am happy to greet those around me with a simple hand shake, just don’t ask me to high-five or fist-bump…not happening!

Then there’s hugging. Did you just squirm in your seat? Did the very thought of hugging someone you hardly know cause you discomfort? Me too.

Last Sunday I sat in a different seat to my norm finding myself next to a lady I have never met. I said hello and gave a friendly smile when she first sat next to me. Then came the time in the service when we were encouraged to turn to our neighbor and greet them. I extended my hand in friendship and she graciously responded.

Then it happened!

Holy embraces all around! Romans 16:16 msg

She pulled me a little closer wrapping her arms around me as she informed me ” I’m a hugger.” Honestly I didn’t have time to pull away. There I was, embraced in a hug with a total stranger…are you cringing?

If that had taken place a few years ago I would have stiffened like cardboard, held my breath as I endured the torture and made sure I avoided her in the future. I no longer respond to that degree, though I still have a little hesitancy, a little awkwardness, a little embarrassment but a lot more grace.

It is only as I have responded to God’s love for me, accepting His warm welcoming embrace have I slowly become more comfortable with accepting and showing affection to others.

Whatever church gathering you attend I’m sure the leadership would want you to feel safe. It’s okay not to shake hands, high-five, fist-bump or hug. It would be sad to stop attending church all because you dread the “greet and meet” time.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Set your own boundaries, you know what you are comfortable with. In the meantime allow the One who loves you unconditionally to draw you into His warm embrace. Let the Lord melt away your fears and break down your walls. Let Him fill you with His presence and grow you in His grace.

Maybe you will never be a hugger, and that’s okay. A warm friendly smile and a welcoming hand-shake can say “I’m glad to have met you today.”

I was glad to have met the lady next to me even if she was a hugger. We spoke after the meeting (not about hugging). I found out she was visiting from out of state and this was her first time at my church. She had shed a tear during the service and told me how she wished she had a church like this one in her home state. I’m glad I didn’t push her away.

To those who are comfortable with the “greet and meet” time. Let us be mindful of the people around us, may we respect their boundaries…you can usual tell from their body language. One last thing, I do not allow men (other than my husband) to hug me full on no matter how long I have know them and definitely not a male stranger.

Are you a hand shaker, high-fiver, fist-bumper, hugger or a hide in the restroom woman? Share in the comments, you may be surprised to find you are not alone.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

Out of the Mouth of Babes

“10 back 3 in. Crowded today girl!!!” That was the text I received from my friend Tammy. She was right church was busier than usual, and as I was slightly running behind my normal schedule I appreciated her saving me a seat even if it was not our usual 7 rows back, end seats…anybody else sit about the same place every week?

Holding the hands of both my grandsons I quickly made my way to the church side entrance. You would think that I would have parked my car on the Children’s Church side of the building. Not me. I’m a creature of habit and so parked on the office side entrance. This meant I would have to cross through the foyer to get to the children’s area, not my brightest idea.

As we walked among the crowd my four year grandson declared, “Look at all the customers Nana.”

In many way he was right. We all come at first just to look, to browse, to see what is on offer. All hoping to find that something special that will add purpose to our lives.

Some find their special something on the first visit while others return many times before they find theirs. Each realizing special is not a something but a person. Jesus. He is the special in our lives.

Unlike going to the store with credit card at the ready, we cannot buy Jesus. He is not for sale! No amount of tithing or giving will pay our way into His presence. We cannot earn our way in through regular attendance, or working our fingers to the bone as volunteers. He is not for sale and cannot be earned.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:22 NIV

The only way into God’s presence is through Jesus, He has already paid the price for our salvation when He bled and died on the cross for us. Just as when we first believed and accepted His gift of salvation so we need to continue in His gift of grace. We could not save ourselves before we asked Jesus to be lord of our lives, so why do we sometimes think we can fix ourselves without Him after salvation?

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of son-ship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”  Romans 8:15 NIV

So, dear Sister-in-Christ lets stop struggling to free ourselves from what only God can free us. Rest in His salvation, know He has us and is for us. The battle has been won. Truth is waiting for us to receive just as we did when we first believed.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

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