Word of the Week

The Gym and the Church

As many of you know, I have recently moved into a new home and community as part of the transition to Washington Plaza. While I'm thrilled about where life has taken me, there is always a transition period no matter how much you like how things have turned out.

I didn't know where the community offices were like the all important DMV.

I didn't know where the closest bank and post office were.

I wasn't sure where I wanted to shop for groceries.

It is kind of stressful to have to make so many decisions at once. While I have solved these dilemmas by now, there is one I haven't master yet: exercise.

I was a member of a great little community gym in Gaithersburg. It was cheap and didn't have monthly membership fees. And, I loved it.

But now in Virginia, I can't seem to find something that really meets my needs.

I want a gym that isn't too expensive, close to my house (or on my way home from work) and has interesting classes to meet other people (or at least that I can stand to work out for an hour in).

I was trying out a new exercise program a couple weeks ago and realized what a church nerd I am because all I could think about was what finding a gym had in common with finding a church. I realized that some people hate finding a church as much as I hate exercise. And suddenly, new waves of compassion came over me.

The class I was attending that day was not meeting my needs and I haven't been back to it yet.

No one spoke to me. Everyone assumed that I knew what to do when the class started (yet I had no clue). No one asked me for money (what the class cost-- so in the end I got it for free, which was good I guess). No one seemed to notice when I left early. No one has called me since I left. I'll probably never go back to a gym of this kind solely based on my 25 minutes there.

Do you think this is fair? But, really why would I want to go back?

I think what I am learning as a "newcomer" in my community is how important the first impressions are. And, how much we as city-dwelling commuters really care about convenience. If something is not easily accessible to us, we can easily find an excuse not to do it.

My hope is that as Washington Plaza continues to grow as a community of faith, we will become a people who are always at our best when newcomers meet us. That we go out of our way to encourage first time visitors to return. That we so love what we are about at this congregation that we might even make the commitment to membership even if we have to drive a significant distance to get here on Sunday mornings.

For me, I'm still looking for a gym or something to do that is exercise based in community. Hopefully, I'll find it soon.