In Evangelicalism there was this assumption of friendship. You could join a small group that would meet every week and those people would automatically support you. You had moving help, job finding support/connections, and other parents to chat with about child issues etc. You had people you saw regularly.
Trust was assumed, and expected.
Along with this came the price tag:
You were required to share vulnerable things.
You were required to believe how the group did.
You were required to trust those people.
Trust was expected, not earned.
We are taught from a young age that we cannot trust our hearts, minds, or bodies in any way. They were things to be conquered and surrendered. Without them there is no way to discern who is safe and who is not, except to “trust god.”
So, when these communities are started, trust is just assumed. People share secrets, are vulnerable, and open themselves up to sometimes abusive behavior and are told it is the will of god that they do this.
"When we leave, for whatever reason, we begin the journey of reconnecting with our hearts, minds, and bodies. We begin the journey back to ourselves and to trusting our intuition, our wildish nature."
This is a process, and building rich friendships and community takes time and effort. I want to offer up a few things that might help:
1. Show up.
If you are joining a yoga class, or a business networking event, or any other group to meet people, you have to show up over and over to get to know people. I am not talking about being rigid with this, but the more consistently you show up, the more people can get to know you, and you can start to trust and be trusted.
2. How you show up matters.
Our thoughts have an impact on how we show up. Showing up with the assumption that people will think you are weird or awkward etc, will have you feeling weird and awkward. Showing up with the assumption that people will think well of you, or neutral about you is incredibly helpful to you, and causes no one harm. Showing up this way will have you feeling more open to connections. Also, just as an important aside, you are awesome, you are just as worthy as anyone else to take up space, be seen and loved, and make friends. YOU BELONG. I heard somewhere that due to the multitude of personality types 33% of people will like you, 33% will feel neutral about you, and 33% of people won't like you. There is nothing that can be done to change it, and it is true for everyone. You will find your people, and if someone is not right for you, thats okay too.
3. The marble Jar Test.
This is a Brene Brown test that I have found very helpful. It is good for visualizing building trust until you can feel deeply connected to your intuition.
Each relationship has a jar. When you share something personal and the other person honors your privacy, or holds space for you, or does something kind for you, put a marble in the jar. If they say something that you feel hurt by, or tell your private information, take a marble or two out. Everyone makes mistakes in relationships and in life. We are not looking for perfect people, but we are looking for people that overall are showing up with good intention and bringing good to us, and us to them. Look for the positive things to put marbles in for, the negative things will be clear.
Have you faced challenges in building relationships after leaving religion? What have you found helpful?
I absolutely love working with clients on goals around building community. If you are interested in working with me I offer a Complimentary Consult where we can talk about what your goals are with friendships, and how I can best serve you.
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