I began this journey of full-time ministry a year ago, and to be quite honest, the early months were rough--there was division, manipulation, and just plain *ugliness* happening with many of the folks here. Well, it's now a year later, and things are much improved. There are various factors at work in that, not the least of which is the simple fact that I am no longer the new kid.
I first noticed the difference at Annual Conference. Last year, in addition to my family, I knew 15 pastors, more or less, and even fewer laity who gathered from around the conference. It felt like I had seen and greeted all those I knew in less than one day. This year, I couldn't even begin to tell you how many I know. Everywhere I went I ended up talking with someone, a fact which I am thoroughly grateful for, but which, at the same time, also generally made me run late for EVERYTHING! This year I actually knew what was happening at conference, what to expect, how to manage things (though my lesson this year was that I should NOT try and attend everything, because it is simply not possible). And there was that sense--I'm inclined to call it the "Second year sense"--the sense of not being the new kid anymore, the sense of knowing people, of having settled in a bit, the sense of confidence in being able to serve and help others as they too get accommodated.
It's second year hear at the church and that too feels different. Not only do we have a new Senior pastor, but I know people--I go to an event now and end up circulating at all of the tables so I can greet people--and by in large, at most gatherings I know at least 90% of the people--there is comfort in that. There's ease.
One of the key components of my character is that I am a helper--I like being of service to people--able to answer questions, give directions, whatever. And no longer being *new* to everything makes that A LOT easier. So, I breathe a little easier these days--not because the work is any easier (though it at least is less cantankerous), but because I am settling in, and it feels good!