In Limbo

Dear Diary,

I’ve always wanted to start something that way, maybe I’m extra in touch with my feminine side or something. I should warn you all that I’m in a bad mood, and the contents of this post may offend. I might even delete it later. Who knows. If you’re reading it, enjoy it while it lasts.

A week ago I was pretty sure that Townsville was home, and Brisbane was just where I used to live. Tonight I’m not so sure. I think I’m feeling the first pangs of loss. I don’t know what set it off (actually I probably do, but it’s just been a progression of events rather than a single event). I think it’s the realisation that proper relationships with people take longer than 12 weeks to develop. It’s possible that throwing myself into the deep end in terms of my involvement with church up here has been a mixed blessing. On one hand I’ve developed relationships with a bunch of people really fast, but on the other I haven’t taken the time to get to know people in any deep or meaningful way. So now I feel relationally in limbo, and I think my visit to Brisbane may have hammered it home a little (or a lot). Don’t get me wrong (and this isn’t just a disclaimer to appease any Townsville readers) I do really like the people up here. Hmm, there’s an old rule somewhere about not publishing things you don’t want other people to read. It also applies for not saying something in front of a microphone you don’t want recorded (there’s a funny story about a sportsreader who got caught out when a story ended with the words “he was suspended” and the newsreader added “by his testicles” because he thought the microphone was still off.). Anyway, I’m beginning to understand the importance of welcoming, and the fact that welcoming is an ongoing process. Welcoming is an interesting concept, and I’m not sure that any church does it particularly well. I haven’t been in this situation too many times before, and in the past the churches I’ve been welcomed to have been “dad’s churches” which, in my limited experience makes things feel easier. Although I haven’t had to go through the process of fitting into a new church for a long time, and last time I had to fit into a new school too.

Anyway, back to the theories on welcoming and why I think jumping into serving at church as quickly as I have may not have been the wisest move ever. I think ministry requires trust. That goes without saying. I think trust takes a while to establish. I think trust is earned on the basis of a relationship where you demonstrate a level of trustworthiness. I don’t know how long it takes to develop that trust but it probably takes more than 12 weeks, and definitely takes more than the 2 weeks it took me to get involved with stuff. I think, to paraphrase Paul, I can teach or do whatever ministry stuff I’m doing all I want, but at the end of the day, without “love” I’m just a noisy sounding gong. And that’s tough. And interesting.

So in conclusion, it’s been almost 3 months since I moved here, and I’ve only just realised that while I really like the people around here it takes longer than 3 months to establish real, deep friendships. Which I guess some people might have expected. I think I’m just a specialist at superficial relationships.

Anyway, it’s late, I’m tired, I’m grumpy and I’m annoyed. Well Brisbane people, it looks like I might miss you afterall.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

19 thoughts on “In Limbo”

  1. It nice to hear that! although we may not like to admit it we miss you to sometimes, especially when there is no one else that can play keeper in our soccer team. :s

    Like today….

  2. Been there, done that, felt like that too. Spooky.

    In 1998 I did a rather similar thing to yourself – finished uni, moved to Townsville, and sunk my teeth into ministry at the Willows Church (then John Calvin Presbyterian Church – a strangely Arminian flavoured place actually).

    You’re right, it takes time. Had two years there and made some great friends – some, of the transient kind like ourselves, who we’ve kept in contact with as we all flit across the globe, and some particularly welcoming people who’ve stayed in Townsville actually still keep in contact with us.

    You haven’t left a girlfriend in Brisbane too have you? That would just be too spooky.

  3. Been there too. [Hi dh!]

    The church needs people good at superficial relationships [Can you imagine post-church chats without them?]

    I have a 6-12 month theory. When moving somewhere new I think it takes 6 months to correctly identify the people who will be your real friends, then another 6 months to actually build significant relationships with them.

    I think you’re going pretty well if you know people’s names after 3 months…

  4. When you have no light to guide you
    And no one to walk to walk beside you
    I will come to you
    Oh I will come to you
    When the night is dark and stormy
    You won’t have to reach out for me
    I will come to you
    Oh I will come to you

  5. I can’t believe one of my sisters just posted Hanson lyrics on my blog anonymously…

    I can’t believe I know they’re Hanson lyrics.

  6. I can believe the Hanson thing Smiley. I think I can still quote the lyrics (at least those that you can identify as words) to Gangsta’s Paradise after a sibling & friend left it on repeat for over an hour one morning about 12 years ago.

    It might just be a first child, large family thing, but you wouldn’t know much about that…

    Besides the inherent emotional scarring, it does add to the vast store of useless knowledge useful for superficial relationship maintenance.

    And Nathan, as I’m sure you’ve started to find, and many of the transients will agree, you will discover people who you can drop in on wherever in the world you may be, no matter how long you’ve been apart (or even just met), and you can be real, and it is like “coming home”, every time. Treasure them.

    PS. I covered for you at soccer today. We won 5-2. It was a good game to watch, though the goals we conceded were pretty soft. Matti scored one of the “2”, though to be fair it could have gone anywhere. I’m getting too old to not train and expect to play passably and not hurt afterward. At least you have a clean sheet so far this season.

  7. Is “Simone” Simone Richardson? And who is DH? Because Simone, I can remember (tho she wouldn’t remember me :P), but who DH could be, I have no idea :( :P

    Anyways… yeah… it’s difficult to make real friends in 3 months. I still don’t have any real friends in my uni course and I’ve been there a year and a half :P

  8. Nathan, maybe your blog could become a general meeting place – maybe like a cafe where we can meet up and chat with old friends. Greetings to all in NQ!

  9. Not only did I know they were Hanson lyrics, I can now hear the tune playing in my head.
    Somebody shoot me.

  10. I’ve narrowed the list of who DH is down:

    -Darryn Hinch (a low life celebrity try hard who may just have nothing better to do but read nathan’s blog)

    -Darren Hayes (can’t sing to save himself but that is beside the point. He did come from QLD origionally so maybe he is keeping in touch with his queensland roots, but i doubt he knows nathan)

    -someone who uses a rather derogatory term to describe themselves

    – Nathan’s Grandfather (may be a little too old to be in the running)

  11. aww Nath! what an emotional blog. I recall the days i was a newbie to mitchie.. being welcomed by a bunch of people, one with a big smile. I’m sure they’re doing the same in Townsville, you’ll feel comfortable there soon. You are always welcome back at mitchie.

    Scooter – nice to have another Pharmacy buddy online. I can also quote the APP guide, APF 18, Therapeutic guidelines, Martindale, Merk. Ahh it is like poetry.

  12. Ouch.

    Find yourself a nice stormy night and sit in the dark and share some if this stuff with someone. Preferably listening to some Radiohead, Unbelievable Truth or Portishead.

    Prayers for you are being sent from me, a superficial-friend-maker, to a God-who-doesn’t-have-superficial-
    relationships-because-he-put-you-
    together-in-your-mama’s-womb.

    God bless.

  13. i totally know what you’re feeling nath. I’ve being there (twice now in two years), moving into a new city can be a little weird. The first few months are all fresh and exciting and everything is new so you’e on an emotional high. Then the freshness dies a litle and you miss people and it can get a litle lonely (or sometimes a lot lonely) even with other people around. After a while though (for me around 7/8 months) you start to develop a level of familiarity (i.e. you don’t need a refidex anymore and you actually know where streets are when people talk about them). Yeah, it does take time to develop a deeper relationship with most people (occassionaly there is an instant deeper trust but this is the exception rather then the rule) but it does come after spending more time with people, normally i find that comes through more formal time spent working or in s tructured activity together as opposed to social chitchat (but that may be just me). It will pass slowly but I’ve found there is a still a lingering sense of home in that other place where family and loved ones reside. I would sa that home is always where the heart is most and the heart moves slower then body does.

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