I have a new perspective of what it feels like to be the "new person" in a city, group, or community. I genuinely think that this move has made me really appreciate the challenges and nuances it takes to be new. [And I plan to remember that as best I can for whenever I meet someone who is in that position] One particular aspect of this new perspective is how it feels to be accepted. We had the great fortune of meeting a young couple in our neighborhood the other day. They were very welcoming and truly made us feel wanted and accepted in our community. They have already helped us in so many ways and we have felt so grateful for this new friendship!
They invited us to meet their group of friends in the community at a gathering they have later in the month. They offered to help welcome us into their sunday school class on Sunday. They even offered Harris to join a group of guys for man-time and me to go for walks with the women who get together weekly. It seriously taps into that deep longing in our hearts to be known and to belong and there's no other feeling like it. We have already felt so "taken care of" here in our new town.
When you're offered all of this welcoming and hospitality, you cannot help but try to think of a way you could "give back"; but we're the new ones, we don't have much money, and we don't have a ton to offer people who are already integrated in community.
Two nights ago in Lynchburg (and across other nearby states) there was a severe windstorm/thunderstorm that swept over homes and streets. It took many trees, parts of buildings, and most detrimentally, power lines. There are about a half a million residents in the state of Virginia without power in these most dreadfully scorching hot days. For whatever reason, our home and the few surrounding us, were only some of the rare few that did not lose power. People all over town are sweating in their homes and have lost all of their groceries among other inconveniences.
Our new friends called us around 10pm last night and mentioned that they were having about 3 other small families come over to stay the night because of power outage. They had run out of blankets, pillows, and were in need of some extra basic groceries. I really don't know how to describe the excitement that came over us to be able to help out! We don't have much to offer these days (don't get me wrong, we are abundantly blessed with what we do have, but relatively speaking we're low on budget and resources) and yet we were given the gift of being able to offer our assistance. We happily gathered what we do have to spare and joyfully delivered it to our new friends.
I get it now. It really does feel better to give! Not that I would ever discount the joy that we have in receiving new friendships and community, but to be able to give, especially when we have little, was truly a blessing to us. I look forward to watching these new relationships grow.