Not surprisingly, I'm becoming increasingly distressed at my near total lack of social context which has become more severe over the past few years. The trio of churches where I'd become somewhat involved to a degree reasonably appropriate no longer are part of my life, for a bunch of reasons. I've said I'm seeking "a community of recognition, acknowledgment and participation: a place of embrace."
Recognition: we know who you are!
Acknowledgment: we are happy you're here and, in fact, we consider you a gift rather than a threat or a nuisance.
Participation (the big one): ideally, I'm looking for somewhere people will be able to say, "Leah designed the bulletin cover (or the new banner or even paraments)!" Leah is preaching next Sunday!" "Are you going to attend Leah's upcoming bible study series?" "Leah wrote the liturgy for our upcoming celebration!" "Are you going to hear Leah's organ recital this afternoon?"
It seems as if it needs to start with the first parameter, and admittedly I'm far from the most talkative person when it comes to myself; a lot of that stems from disgust at those people who go and and on for hours on end about nothing but themselves, because I actually love talking about myself, my dreams and my experience. For a small example, at Wednesday evening soup supper last week after I mentioned to someone I'd drifted for years, she said, "Sometimes people need to drift in order to discover what they want to do next." I replied, "Oh, that wasn't the case; I've always known what I wanted to do." However, part of knowing a person includes where they've been and what they've done—basic facts. It would have been helpful if I'd added a few sentences or even an entire paragraph explaining what I'd been doing before starting to drift and the steps I then took in order to maintain and build skills to attain my dreams. That kind of talk puts flesh on an acquaintance, helps make them less strange; it begins sprouting some kind of relationship, possibly even a potential friendship and for sure it starts establishing that essential social context.