It’s that time of the year again. VBS (vacation Bible school) is going on at churches all over the area. We’ve been going to a new church for about a year now, and I felt ready to get involved, so I signed up to help with VBS. I figured it would be a good way to make friends, right? I mean, the kids who go to VBS come away with tons of new “bff’s” I however forgot that as an adult it’s just not that easy. Oh, to be a kid again! So here are 5 things I learned this week about making friends at VBS (the grown-up way.)
- Not the VBS of My Youth– Being in a church of 3,000-some people, even after a year of attending, I still feel like the “new kid”. That means that when you sign up to help with an event like VBS they put you where they need help, not based upon your skills. I was assigned kitchen duty (aka “snacks”.) When I think of snacks from my VBS days, all I remember is playing outside and then coming in and magically there were animal crackers on a napkin and a carton of sugar, water, and yellow & red dye (orange ‘drink’…not to be confused with actual juice) at the tables. If it was an affluent church, you even got a straw to drink with and didn’t have to drink straight from the carton thus swallowing pieces of disintegrating paper. The church I attend is no slouch in the snacking department! This year we served apples and caramel sauce (we cut up the apples), trail mix (the alternative gluten-free, nut-free, taste-free snacks were super-fun to keep track of), root bear floats (no comment), and pizza (hallelujah…they were delivery!) Serving snack to some 400 kids and 200 workers was stressful, but at the same time, fun.
- The New Kid– The good thing about being assigned to work in the kitchen was that I was sure to be working with a lot of ladies with whom I hoped to make a friend or two. Being the new kid is hard though. Many of them knew each other already, and the hierarchy was clearly in place. It took the first two days of making suggestions to solve problems and being looked at like “and you are??” before I felt like I was working my way up the rungs of the service ladder. We attended our previous church for 18 years. Everyone knew everything about me! This new group, they knew nothing. I felt the need to prove that I did indeed have something to offer the snack team. I’m happy to say by the end of the week, I no longer felt like an outsider, but a valuable part of the team!
- People, They Are Different– Being a little kid at VBS, you would sit next to another child you didn’t know and strike up a conversation something like this, “Hi, my name is Lisa. I like rainbows and ponies and the everything purple,” and instantly you were best friends, because THEY liked the same things! As an adult, things are not so simple. In trying to be sociable and make friends this past week, I inadvertently brought up numerous hot topics that ended up being quite controversial. Which leads me to point number 4…
- Subjects Best Avoided– The big 3 to avoid in most situations are politics (I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader), sports (um…it was a bunch of women), and religion (duh it was a church event), so these were not really an issue. No, the big 3 when you are in a bunch of women (especially church women) are #1- food and diet, #2- homeschooling vs. other schooling , and #3- who’s in charge. It’s kind of hard to avoid talking about food when that’s what you’re doing! We were the snack people for goodness sakes. It was not my brightest idea to start counting calories again this week. As the ladies were snacking on m&m’s, I looked on “my fitness pal” app to see how many I could eat. I mentioned how many were in a serving, only to be told “it’s not about calories, it’s about what you put in your body!”, “you really should eat organic”, and numerous other pieces of advice. Oy…I didn’t mean to open that can of worms! These ladies were sweet as could be, and I honestly think they just felt they were giving me knowledge to better myself, but that’s not how I roll. You come at me with unsolicited advice and I tend to shut down. Same with the schooling thing…and I’m the worst. I send my kids to…gasp…public school. And not only that, we live in the second worst district in this area. As for #3, well, the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” is never more applicable than when you have 12 ladies in a church kitchen. Suffice it to say that we learned a lot about humility and being gracious and merciful this week.
- The True Definition of a Friend– Recently one of the pastors spoke on the Art of Christian Friendship. It was a great message, and I one I need to listen to again. I would take it one step further and say that true friendship can only come about when God is at the center of the equation. I wasn’t wrong to think I could make some new friends this week, but it’s not something you can expect to happen just because. I made a lot of acquaintances this week. One’s I hope could mature into true friendship, but the fact is that it’s just not as easy as saying, “Hi, my name is Lisa and we have x,y, and z in common. Be my friend.” For a long time now I’ve been praying that God would hook me up with a friend, a true friend. The kind that you can “do” life with. Someone who knows all about you and still loves you anyway. Someone who loves you enough to hold you accountable to the things you’re working through in your life. And someone you can do the same for. I do believe that certain things need to be in play, like you live in the same area, attend the same church, those kind of things. I have yet to speak to people who are friends like that saying they met on friendharmony.com.
I’m curious…do you have a true friend? How did the relationship come about?