“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)
Today over at Bonnie’s, we are discussing “real life community”.
There was a time in my life where I didn’t think I needed people around me. It was a season where I was recovering from being hurt, stepped on, and being used by those that I loved the most and who I thought genuinely loved me. That was before Christ. Once I came to know the Lord, I did everything I could to “belong”. I attended various Bible studies and retreats, and signed up for ministry assignments just so I could be closer to those whose lives I was hoping to rub off on me. But my standard of what I believed friendship and community to be left me hurt and disillusioned, as I realized people aren’t perfect and it was no one’s job to take care of me. I had a part to play.
I have such a different view of what community is today. It is in large groups, small groups, where “2 or 3 are gathered”; any place where I gather with those who pursue a common goal. God has brought me a wonderful family of believers to run with in ministry. We love, laugh and play together. We pray, worship, share joys and challenges and we grow closer to the Lord as we draw strength from one another. I am so thankful for the community of believers at Convergence House of Prayer, who run hard after God. I have been picked up, encouraged and challenged to continue to live my life in such a way as to draw others to Him.
I find community among the company of my “in real life” girlfriends. They accept me for who I am, with all my faults and imperfections, and yet they still love me. What could I possibly say about the impact that you have had on my life? I haven’t been the perfect friend. I still have moments of wanting to isolate, looking for the island to run and hide, but yet you always find me. You somehow know when I need to talk, and you especially know when I need coffee and chocolate. Thank you for being there for me. You love well. And I pray that I can love you with the same God-given love that you have shown to me.
And there is a community of women whom have become so near and dear to my heart, although most I have never met personally. But God has somehow weaved our hearts together in such a way that it seems like we’ve known each other our whole lives. When I first started blogging, I never in a million years thought I would share anything that was remotely personal or intimate. After all, why would I open myself up to a virtual world of women who I didn’t know personally. But I couldn’t hold back. I couldn’t ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He asked me to write. I knew that He had something to share with those who would read. And it’s in the writing where I’ve found a community of grace-filled believers that I had no idea existed. You have emailed me, to pray for me personally, to check in on me, to share your own joy and pain. And I am grateful, oh so grateful that God would give me this privilege of sharing a bit of my journey with you.
To be in a real life community does not mean you will have perfect relationships with perfect people. It means that you will be surrounded by people who love you and whom you strive to love with everything God has given to you. It means learning to ask for help, learning to ask for forgiveness and learning to keep putting one foot in front of the other, together, when you feel hurt and helpless. In blogging, it means having the courage to share your voice with those whose necks you haven’t yet had the privilege to hug yet. It means allowing the boundaries to come down and shedding layers as you write to encourage, but at the same time as you write to be healed.
I am eternally grateful for the community of grace-filled believers that I surround myself with – family, friends, church, blogging. You are the best friends a girl could ever ask for!