Linda hails from Chicago and with her warm sense of humor you might feel as if you’d known her all of your life. In her spare time when not taking care of job, husband and kids she runs a button business and writes funny greeting cards. She has a heart for the new person at church and sent me this great essay. Don’t we all wish we had a Linda in our life? Thanks ~!
By Linda Schwert
It was hard not to notice the tall older woman sitting alone in the church pew. There was nothing familiar about her. I wonder if she was married or had kids. Was she new to the area? Where was she from? What brought her here? I thought maybe I could introduce myself when the service ends. I knew it might feel awkward and she might think I’m weird. I decided to do it anyway.
“Hi my name is Linda. Are you visiting today?” I asked. After allowing Karen to tell me a little about herself I had just enough information to introduce her to a few of my friends.
“Karen, this is Maria. She lives in Skokie too. This is Sania. She teaches at the local college.” After a few brief introductions I showed Karen where the coffee and bagels were. Then I gave her a personal invitation to “Movie Night in the Gym.”
That was not Karen’s first visit to my church. The last time she came, she told me, no one welcomed her. No one introduced themselves. No one cared. She was invisible. She was the invisible 6’ woman, if that is even possible. I thought, How hard is it to say, “Hi, my name is _______?” I don’t know what motivated her to come back but I’m glad she did.
I’m convinced people really do care about the newcomers but they don’t know what to say or do. We need to look for people who are new to the neighborhoods, new in our churches or even on the sidelines of the soccer game. Introduce yourself. Ask them a few questions and introduce them to people you know. Invite them to an event. Recommend a local restaurant, dry cleaner or bank.
A small kindness on your part will make an enormous difference to the newcomer. Who knows, next time that shy newcomer might be you.