Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Gatekeeper

This post has been on my heart for awhile and I wanted to share some thoughts about gatekeeping. I just read a friends blog that prompted me to write this post now. With another move in our future, I fully understand the trials of being new in a town. New to a church, homeschool group, neighborhood, group of friends, school...what ever it may be. Just new. The concept of a gatekeeper is to be the one when someone new comes into a group and to meet them at the gate. Let them in. Take them under your wing and introduce them around. Help them find new stores, doctors and friends. Show them the ropes. Take them under your wing and do what you can to make their transition smooth. Include them in parties. Ask to meet for coffee or lunch after school or church. Bring them a meal when they are moving in or offer to help. They may have no one else to lean on. In a sense, make room on your "friend plate" for someone new.

If you look around there are new people everywhere. All looking for that friendly face in the crowd to make them feel welcome. We all remember how it feels to be new. Even if you have been in the same town for years, can't you at least imagine the feeling. Loneliness. Isolated. Unfamiliar. You, then, are the perfect gatekeeper. Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to that new person. You don't have to be their best friend, or even hit it off great. Just meet them at the door and introduce them to someone. Carve time out of your busy schedule and be willing to be used. To serve someone else.

It seems our busy society doesn't lend itself to reaching out. Soccer practice, working out at the Y, running to the bank, getting the books back to the library...you understand. But let me encourage you to have eyes to see how you can be a gatekeeper in your circle. Encourage your kids to do the same. Just imagine what a blessing it will be to another family.

Just reach out and open the gate.

12 comments:

Laura said...

I can identify, from the other side...as a military family, we move a lot, and it is HARD to move to a new place, and be the outsider, and experience (yet again) people NOT reaching out and inviting us in, not including us.

Now, we've been here for almost a year...time for me to start being one of the ones to reach out to others...

Thanks for the reminder!!

crispy said...

I can understand about people NOT reaching out. Sorry that has been the same for you Laura. I keep thinking eventually people will catch on and start reaching out.

There are so many military and missionary families (not to mention those that have moved for work) that are all new. There have been times that I can't crack into a group of people and eventually I just have to move on and find a new group. Sometimes it feels just like jr. high again.

Annie said...

Was it Christine's blog you read? If not, I just did, and was so impressed by the couple at their new church who took them "under their wing" so to speak. The thing is, I think it really can't be "organized"....i.e. by the church. I remember vividly when my daughter first moved into the public school district here, they organized a "welcome family" for each new student/family. The idea was good - perhaps I just got the wrong person because it was really, really uncomfortable. Maybe we were just so totally NOT the same kind of people...but it was miserable. On the other hand, one time I visited a parish near us just because it was convenient that Sunday, and the woman in the pew next to us was just so sweet and friendly after Mass....I just about up and changed parishes! That level of warmth is just so welcome.

Annie said...

Cris - I love your comment about Jr. High. And, to think - we thought we'd grow out of that! But no one wants to feel "left out".

crispy said...

Annie, it was Christine's blog.

And I couldn't agree more. There have been a few times that I have been "matched" with some new "friend" at some organized level and it just doesn't work.

I do think though, that the idea of reaching out, and including and introducing is something that everyone can do, on some level. That's why I like the term, "gatekeeper". They don't have to be your new best friend, just little bit of the welcome wagon instead. =)

Christine said...

Awesome post. I so want to be a gatekeeper, and hopefully I will become more aware of new people around me.

Christine said...

Annie and Crispy, just for the record, we were not matched yet we are so comfortable with them that it feels like we were if you know what I mean. They are wonderful gatekeepers to not only John and I but many newcomers.

fitncrafty said...

This is a great post. I can't tell you how many times I have moved. In my adult married life. I think 7now. I wish that there were more people out there thinking this way. A year later and I am still looking for the 'gatekeeper'. I actually became the welcome committee for our school because of it. Funny being everytime someone asks me something I have to get the answer to relay it.. I digress..
thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

Cris...
I love this post. Our dearest and closest friends moved away from us about four years ago and once they learned they would move I asked Gena how I could specifically pray for her. She said, "Pray I find a friend."

Love this post!

Lee and Bev said...

If I count right, in my 60+ years I have moved (set up housekeeping) 30 times. The first 10 were before I was married - all within the same town. But - new schools, friends, neighbors, etc. As hard as all these moves have been, (I detest the whole process with a passion!) God has always provided "gatekeepers" to help us integrate. Getting a new driver's license and finding someone to cut my hair are the "biggies" for me. Now that we are in the "fall" of our life - we are reminded of the importance of being the ones to reach out to others. We have found that we connect more easily with others who are new - who aren't already into a "group." Working with missionaries over the years has reminded us of the importance of reaching out. We are constantly praying for "gatekeepers" for our family as they move from place to place and try to integrate into a new place.

One thing we learned in seminary-"be ware who meets you at the train!" The person who wants to be your gatekeeper - may be needy or has an ajenda. Accept the help - but don't form strong alliances too early.

Thanks for being sensitive, Cris, to this very important issue. You are a great "gatekeeper" even when you too are "going through a new gate."

K-Sue said...

Bev, I loved that comment of being wary of the one meeting you at the train!

Crispy, my friend from where we used to live fits this category of Gatekeeper. I called her the perfect hostess. She never assumes that 2 persons know each other or know about each other. If you approach a group where she is, she introduces you all around, with little bits of info so that you left knowing something about that other person. It took effort on her part to learn and remember, but she always looked out for others. When I was new at that town and church and needed some local advice, I felt like I could call her - and I did.

She also coined the name for my favorite party food: When you would RSVP to an invitation, she would say, "I'm so glad you're coming, and honey, don't eat dinner before the party, because the menu is Heavy Hors d'oeuvres. Yum!

Susan said...

Yep. I hear ya. We struggle time and time again with being new and being on the outside, trying to get in as I wrote about on my blog. sigh. No fun, but what God has called us to. We ARE aware of others though who are new and want to help be gatekeepers for them. And are so blessed and encouraged by those who help gatekeeper for us. Also, thinking of seasons of friendships...God blesses us with others sometimes to be a close, gatekeeping friend for only a short time, but it is still a gift from God...