Are You the Happy Honeymooner, Indignant Idealist, or Arm’s Length Army? {The Grove: Welcome to Team}

Hello there Newbie,

I want you to image that I’m showing up at your door right now with a drink and a snack. You smile brightly as you open the door, but you hesitate to let me in.  I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have time for a visit. You have unpacking to do, and a long list of things to buy (and don’t know where to find 90% of that list).  And you’re embarrassed to let me in. There is a pile of dirty laundry in the corner. Suitcases and luggage lockers have exploded across the room.

I know all this, but I invite myself in anyway. I scoot a pile over and plop down on your couch. Or maybe on the floor if you don’t have furniture yet. I’m cool with that.

I hand you your drink and say, “So you’re settling in. Did anyone tell you that ‘settling’ takes about ten times longer that you expect? Yeah. Don’t worry. You’ll get there. I want to ask you how it’s going with your team. How are you doing?”

Now chances are, you’re going to give me one of three responses:

1. The Happy Honeymooner

If this is you, you’re going to gush about how great your team is. Everyone is great. Everything is awesome. I’m so happy for you.  Really. The honeymoon stage is important. I’m here to tell you to soak it up. Build a solid foundation of memories and laughter and bonding during this stage. Ask each other all the questions. Do all the new things. Have all the fun.

And then don’t freak out when the honeymoon is over. Don’t be surprised when the awesomeness wears off, and people start to get annoying and disappointing. It will happen. And it is normal. You have entered the storming stage of the norming, storming, preforming process. When the storming hits, remember. Remember the warm feelings you are experiencing now during the honeymoon. Go back and remember all that you love and appreciate about your team.

2. The Indignant Idealist

Some of you will skip right over the honeymoon stage. This usually happens if A.) You have difficult teammates B.) You are an idealist C.) A combination of both (Hint: it’s usually C.)

You’ve got a list of all the offenses your teammates have already inflicted. They have failed to welcome you and help you in the way you envisioned when you dreamed of your arrival. And it hurts.

I’m not here to minimize that hurt. It’s real. I’m truly sorry for that pain. I ‘m here to nudge you towards extra measures of grace for your teammates. As an idealist, it’s easy to assume the worst – that your teammates simply don’t care.  But remember that you have not been in their shoes. You don’t know the wounds and weariness that they carry. If they are veteran teammates, you don’t know how many times they have welcomed teammates through the revolving door of cross-cultural life. Be gracious. With your freshness, see how you can bless and breathe life to them.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes people aren’t helping you because they don’t know what you need.

Then remember that your ideal of community and team doesn’t actually exist. You live in the reality of broken, messy life. The key to a beautiful team is to embrace that reality and learn to find the goodness in what you have.

3. The Arm’s Length Army

If you are neither of the above, then chances are you are part of the Arm’s Length Army. Many of us come from a home culture where this is the natural default. We’re great at being warm and friendly when we meet people, but then we quickly go about living our separate lives. It can be quite a shock to experience team life, because team life (if done well) doesn’t let you do this. It forces you to actually do life together.

How do you feel about suddenly having people all up in your business? Did you know one person could be your colleague, your family-away-from-family, your church, AND your neighbor? There is no equivalent in our home cultures. Welcome to team.

If you are a person that naturally keeps people at arm’s length, if you struggle to let people in, if most of your relationships hang out in the shallow end, then consider team life your invitation to the deep end.

“But Danielle,” you say, “You never had my teammates…”  Well, I’ve had 41 different teammates, so I may have actually had your teammate. Or someone with the same not-so-endearing qualities as your teammate.

So I can tell you that yes, it will be hard. Really hard sometimes. But oh, it will be good. Submersion into close community with others will bring out areas in your own character that you didn’t know existed. It will test and stretch the boundaries of your ability to love and serve others.  If you’re serious about becoming Christ-like, here’s your chance.

If you do the hard work of shedding what weighs you down, of training your heart muscles to open and embrace rather than withdraw, you’re going to taste what community is meant to be.

And THAT may be the greatest impact you have on the area you came to serve. When the world sees the beauty of teams being the Body, of a group of people that live and love and lean into each other, they will want in on it.

Whether you are a happy honeymooner, an indignant idealist, or part of the arm’s length army, the temptation will come (because the enemy’s favorite thing is to wreak havoc in teams) to not put your heart into team. You have enough to worry about (like that laundry pile in the corner).  But please don’t hold back. Please take the risk and dive in.

Now how about we go share this precious care-package snack with your teammates, shall we?

And pssst, you might want to check and see if you (or your teammates) are one of the 6 People That Kill Community.

So now let’s hear from all of you!

What has God taught you through team? What are the struggles and the joys?  Have you been a Happy Honeymooner, an Indignant Idealist or part of the Arm’s Length Army? Or one of the 6 community killers? 

And related to team, did anyone find Emilie and Denise’s testimonies from this year’s Receive Retreat incredibly encouraging?!


This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesWelcome. You can add yours!


  1. Erika Loftis September 1, 2017

    HA! Indignant Idealist! (That’s me, but don’t tell anyone!) Actually, I really appreciated seeing those two words together. I’ve recently realized that I’m perpetually grumpy and disappointed because I’m an IDEALIST. I perpetually function, and make plans, “ideally”. Perpetually…(I’m just reiterating that because no sense of reality ever seems to dampen my dreams of what whatever could be.) I often start thoughts with “Well, Ideally we’d…” blah blah blah… That cracked me up.

  2. Kelly September 1, 2017

    Team…such a loaded topic. Perhaps its why not many have linked up this week! Seldom is team life easy- but always it’s worth it. I was for sure a honeymooner when we got here. Now I’m seasoned (jaded?) idealist… I still believe our team can be all God wants us to be…He is able!

    1. Annalisa September 1, 2017

      Or perhaps it’s because not all of us are on teams in some sort of formal way. There are a fair number of ministries that work in the area where I live, and I’m forever trying to connect everyone so we can all make the greatest impact, but some people just reject the idea of working together with other ministries. They’re not really an ALA because the other ministries aren’t officially their team, but I happen to think that if we’re serving God, then all ministries are the same team. But as far as having to be on the same page with anyone, no, it’s a concept that I don’t really understand and wouldn’t feel able to link up about.

      1. Erika Loftis September 1, 2017

        Actually, I had a long message about not being on a team and all that. I’m a stay at home mom. My team is… me. Although, I am with an organization, we don’t function in anyway as a team, as every one is involved in different ministries. Sometimes, though, I feel like a puzzle piece missing a puzzle. I have lots of ideas of what ministries we could do, but not good at the organization or details required to tame and temper a dreamer like me. Anyway, I wonder if maybe that is a common experience for us “supporting spouses”. 😉 My husband doesn’t like it when I say that I am here because of what he does, but really it’s true. People ask me what I do here, and I can only rattle off what my husband does. I came because WE were called, for HIM to do stuff. Sometimes I’m jealous of people on teams, even bad ones, because it means that they have some purpose, or connections with other people who run the risk of understanding what it’s like…

        1. MaDonna September 2, 2017

          This has been something I’ve had to come to grips with in the past number of years. Most of the time I homeschool the kids, cook and clean the house – nothing really anything to write home about to supporters. When people ask, I do describe what my husband does – but I’ve had a mindset change. He wouldn’t be able to do the things that he does if I wasn’t here with him; not just for the physical part, but the praying and the encouraging part as well. I’ve learned that my role here is to encourage those he works with at the office. I might bake something for him to take in. We might have them over for a meal. I am also investing time in my kids, which, honestly is a huge ministry that sometimes gets overlooked. You are part of a team – it just looks different and may not be as large as an organization. We may be “trailing spouses”, but I’d say you, like me, are more of hand in hand going about this life overseas.

          1. Amy Young September 2, 2017

            I love this MaDonna, and I think you are spot on. In many ways my role in VA is to help many people be (thrive?!) on the field. Not that you all “need” me, but my stories and role has certainly shifted from when I was the one “doing it.” God keeps showing me lessons about identify. Not always where I want to go with these lessons :), but ultimately they are for my good because they grow and develop me. And bring me closer to God.

            I enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts!

  3. Katherine September 2, 2017

    I was a bit apprehensive about the Welcome to the Team theme last week. We are not in a m org team (yet?)but would like to be. I ended up using the week to think about the expat community that I do have, which turned out to be really useful. Its interesting to see comments here about others also not in formal teams as often it feels like ‘everyone else’ is in a team.
    I’m also a stay at home mum too, and between local church and kids international church on Sunday doesn’t really work for us, but thankfully there are things on during the week when I get to see people.
    ‘..puzzle piece missing a puzzle..’ thats a great phrase!

  4. T September 5, 2017

    I love, loved your “I”ve had 41 teammates!!” I think I”ll count up mine and pray for them all today! Each one has taught us about personalities and life and random things like cooking or parenting or rugby or Christmas braai (South African barbecue). Oh, and rice with cardamon and anise star and cinnamon. I’m thankful to Him to be at a spot to see the richness of all this, and not just the pain of transition and parting! 🙂

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