I have been fortunate to have a large community of people around me, especially over the last 17 years. We come together during the week, and on Sundays, to give praise and glory to the One who is worthy. We serve one another, with arms extended, and hearts exposed. It hasn’t always been perfect community, but then again, people are not perfect. Some would expect perfection within the boundaries of church community. But I disagree. We must be allowed to show ourselves as we truly are — imperfect, messy, selfish and dissatisfied — and we must be allowed to do so without being judged, without being made to feel inferior, less than, or undesired. I am fortunate that I have found such a place. Have I been hurt in this community? Absolutely! Have I hurt others? Probably so. But life is lived in the tension, and without it there is no stretching of the muscle of love that holds a community together.
About five years ago, I came upon another community that I am privileged and honored to be a part of. We write, we create, we do art together. We encourage, pray and lift one another up. I come, continually to the table of this community and eat until I am satisfied. Although this community can never take the place of my communion with the One who gives me all things, this community has satisfied an ache deep inside my heart to belong. For this one who felt as if she had no voice, no craft, no way of expressing the vast array of feelings that flowed deep within, she has found her voice in this community.
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. — Dorothy Day
As I continue to work on my One Word focus this year, one of the things I am learning is to simply love. There need be no place of striving among a community of women whose main purpose is to bring glory and honor to God, and whose secondary purpose is to encourage the heart of another woman. As I come and partake of the richness of that which is laid before me in words, my heart is fuller.
But how do I give back? How do simply love a community, especially that which is unseen, yet fully heard? These sisters, several of whom I have had the honor of meeting “in real life”, yet there are others whose necks I long to hug, like hers, and hers, and hers and oh there are so many. I have been given a rich blessing from this community of women who have opened their arms wide to me, and welcomed me in. They have encouraged me through comments, emails and prayers. Some days I’m not sure if they will be there in the morning, when I log on, but they always are. They show love and acceptance to this one with the ache deep inside her heart.
To simply love a community, one must be willing to be vulnerable, to open up her own life, to expose that which is imperfect and messy. One must be willing to take the time to build and strengthen the walls of community that has been so richly laid before her.
As a step in this direction, I am so excited to be attending my first (in)courage IRL conference! We, from all over the world, will come together via webcast on Friday, and then we will meet one another across the globe at various locations, to simply love on one another. I am so honored and privileged to get to spend a day with this one who has so encouraged my heart. There I will meet, along with others, laying my heart bare, exposed, allowing myself to be simply loved as I simply love others in return. If you are in Northern California, you can register to be with us. But if not, there are many other meet ups happening all around the world. Click here to learn more about (in)RL. Click here to register.
Will you take a moment to watch the video below, to see how women are coming together all around the world to simply love on one another? I hope you will come along and allow this community of believers to simply love you right where you are!
Linking with (in)courage today and Melanie for our One Word focus check in.
*This post is part of a challenge to blog every weekday in the month of April. You can read more about it here.