As graduation season approaches, and many of us leave home- or the places that we have called home for the past few years, some fears usually arise. There usually is the natural anxiety of leaving our comfortable environments, there also is the fear of not finding a spiritual home that will nurture us in faith and love.
I’ve been there several times, and today, I’m sharing a few of my personal tips.
Like many Nigerians, I was shipped off to boarding school at ten. I attended a catholic boarding school in a different city from where I lived, so at the beginning of every term when I said goodbye to my family, I pretty much was on my own. Being a religious school helped a lot. We had daily mass, that I attended, although this was not mandatory. I also met some very devoted Christians (both catholic and non catholic), and they also sharpened my faith. I grew tremendously in my walk with God, and I began to develop a personal, intimate relationship with Him.
Armed with my six years experience at boarding school, I thought I was ready to conquer the world beyond the shores of Nigeria. At 16, I began A’Levels outside Nigeria. This was an entirely new ballgame. I’ll never forget my first assembly at my new school. We just began assembly with a loud and cheerful “Hello everyone, Happy Monday!” I was petrified. How did we not pray? How did we just begin the meeting like that was no God in heaven to whom we owed our lives and entirety?
And thus began my personal quest for a good Christian community of believers where I could express my faith. Here are a few tips that helped me in that period. These tips also helped me immensely even when I transitioned into university and almost began my life anew, in another country and with an entirely different culture.
1. Always maintain your own personal, intimate relationship with God.
This is especially important if you’re moving into a new culture. Church is as cultural as it is spiritual. Before you find a new church home, it is important to keep the fire alive in your own personal relationship. Even when you find a church that’s very spiritual, you may not feel comfortable there because they do things differently from you. They may not pray the way you do, sing the songs you know, or even teach the word of God like you’ve been accustomed to. In those moments, your own personal relationship with God will keep you going. You’ll be able to communion with Him, even when you don’t have anyone else to around you.
2. Be Open Minded.
This is a segue from the comment above. Always remember that as every individual is different, so is every organization and church. A church is made up of diverse individuals, who bring their own sensibilities and mannerisms. You may not feel like part of the community just immediately, but persevere, and soon, you’ll find your place. Once the doctrine is sound, and the people are genuine, trust that everything else will fall into place. You may feel nostalgic and homesick in the first few months, but you’ll always make a few friends and begin to feel at home again. You also can begin to join small groups and committees. These are fantastic ways to know people on a personal level, and to feel like you’re making a difference.
3. Start Something New!
Moving away from home may just be the little push that you need to step out into the unknown and start something new. Start small, and pour into it. You can start a Christian acapella group, bible study, or prayer group. In fact, you can have all three! You don’t need a multitude of people to start something. Even if you find just one other person, make them your prayer partner, and you’ll both strengthen each other, and attract new members. Small groups are definitely a new way to build intimate connections not only with God, but also with one another. Remember what Mordecai said to Esther “Perhaps you’re queen for a time such as this.” So too, perhaps you’ve been thrown into the unknown for a time such as this! The fruits of your courage may well be enjoyed for generations to come. Don’t be afraid. Take one step at a time, and the Lord will direct your path.
That’s it for today friends! I hope this has blessed you. Send these tips to anyone you know who is leaving their comfort zone and stepping out into the world.
Have you moved recently? Have you even been in a similar situation? Please share the tips and tricks that have helped you make the transition! Let’s all learn from each other.
Written by; Alheri
I am available for questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also blog at http://msalheri.com