So far in this Bloomin' Monday series (How to Make the Most of Moving to a New Town), we've talked about how to make friends before you even get there, and meeting the new neighbors. Today, we're moving beyond the neighborhood.
As I have mentioned before, one of the best ways to meet new people is to find groups who share common interests/careers/stages of life with you. My stage of life currently is Mom of young children. When we first moved to our current city, I quickly made acquaintances through 3 sources: a local playgroup, a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, and one of the moms in my son's preschool classroom. (If you are also a Mom of young children, I cannot say enough great things about MOPS. You can find a group in your area here.)
Another place where I have found great friendships is through the churches we have been a part of in each town. (I know that all of you reading this may not be religious, but the general ideas that follow can still apply with other groups.) After seeking the Lord and what church He would have you to join, I highly recommend checking out any of the following that exist in your church:
1. Home Groups: There is something particularly bonding about meeting together in someone's home. Without the formality that still tends to exist in most church classes, people tend to share more of their hearts, and friendships more quickly develop. One of our favorite memories of our first home in Montgomery, AL, is of our home group. Thanks to Facebook, we are still in contact with the leaders of that little group 12 years later. (Hi, Candyce!)
2. Bible Studies: Sunday school (or whatever it's called at your church) attendance is vital if you want to really become involved with your new church. However, I'm talking more specifically about Bible studies that meet sometime other than Sunday morning. I have enjoyed so many of these through the years and was blessed with the opportunity to lead one when we lived in Alabaster, AL. (Hi, Laura and Kristi!)
3. Mission trips: Should you go on a mission trip just to meet people? Of course not. BUT it is an incredible way to get to know people on a level that you otherwise may never reach. Although we had been involved in home group, Bible studies, etc. for about a year when we lived in Knoxville, we truly felt most connected to our church after participating in a mission trip to Mexico.
The point is this: attending group functions will allow you to get out of the house (especially important if you're a stay-at-home Mom) and meet some new people. But to really make new friends, you're going to have to go beyond the superficial. Invite one person or a couple of people to lunch after the group meeting. Invite another Mom to bring her husband and kids over for supper one night. You get the idea.
After moving 13 times since getting married - 7 of which involved brand new towns - I have concluded that it takes about a year to really feel like you "belong" somewhere. If you have made the effort to really get to know people during that time, the second year and beyond can be great! (Admittedly, I have limited experience on the second year and beyond, but I'm currently enjoying being at 2 1/2 years here.)
It does take some effort, but it is worth it if you want to truly Bloom Where You're Planted!
This post is linked up to one or more of the following blog parties. Check them out! Monday: Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie Wednesday: Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family Friday: 5 Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, Company Girl Coffee at Home Sanctuary Other days: A Wise Woman Builds Her Home