December 2015: What community means to me….

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”   Brené Brown


What if? How often do we play the game of the “what if’s”? Looking back on our lives and wondering what could have been if we had chosen this instead of that. Plagued by the questions and possibilities of it all and often creating far fetched delusions of an imagined, potential life for ourselves. Too often I get caught in this “What If?” game; most typically after I have left my mind to wander down the road of comparison and discontentment. What if I had chosen a different major? What if that particular job had worked out? What if I had allowed myself to come to understand [insert particular conclusion] sooner? What if?

I have not yet been gifted the specific answers to any of the above (or all the others swirling in my brain), but after time of reflecting and resting, what I do know is this: it is ALL for a reason.

 

"'For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11
“‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

The past three years have been filled with unending, ‘what ifs’. Trying to navigate through a lot of change, processing through hurt and uncertainties, and doing my best to decipher what steps to take next. I analyze things a lot…..A LOT. Questioning, assessing, reassessing and left trying to come to some sort of logical conclusion of the dust that seems to never settle.

Despite the overwhelming haze of questions and uncertainty, there seems to be one, constant example of God’s provision in these trying times.  A beautiful reminder that this chapter was written with great purpose and it has a specific part to play in my handwritten story. Reminders and examples that I often become blind to, but ones that are graciously provided time and time again by no means of my own, but through the beautiful gift of COMMUNITY. 


“What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.”
C.S. Lewis

“You are imperfect, and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” -Brené Brown

Community is one of the most life changing gifts that I have been so freely, and undeservingly, given. One that blesses my life EVERY single day. I’m still amazed that there was a time in my life when I would have chosen, even fought for, a lifestyle of independence, isolation, and self-reliance; left with a heart hardened and warped to believe false foundations of this world. I’m so thankful God didn’t leave me there. That He knows me better than I know myself and knew I would face some of the hardest, most challenging battles during this season of my life. Knowing I would be unable to survive it all by relying on my own devices, He planted me in a city SURROUNDED with the support of a Godly, loving, family and place of belonging. 

Even before moving to Columbia, God began preparing and reshaping my heart towards the beauty and truth of what community brings. Truth that community, although not without challenges, can be a safe place to learn trust, vulnerability, respect, and love once again. Community, a family of people, that time and time again point me to truth and help turn my aching heart back to God and His unfailing promises.

“Vulnerability is not about fear and disappointment. It is the birthplace of everything we are hungry for.” -Brené Brown

The list is unending of how I would answer the statement: “what community means to me”.  The choice to show up and be seen by others, to be vulnerable, is not one that has come easy. However,  time and time again, I have been gifted with so many blessings by those God has surrounded me with. People who are willing to get down in the trenches with me, walk alongside through the murk, and encourage me as we trek along the path ahead. People who I can share life with; share in the joys, the heartaches, the confusion, the excitements. A community that is willing to hear my story, meet me where I am, and give me the blessing of being fully known and  fully loved. Through community, God continuously reminds me that even when the road gets hard, I am not alone. 

Of all the ‘what if’s” in my life, the question of choosing community over independence is thankfully no longer one of them. Trading alone for together, facing whatever life may bring as a family, is a life of value that cannot be measured.

No matter what life may bring, I am grateful to know I am not alone. Through community, especially my Midtown family, I am reminded that there are people willing to walk alongside me and ‘carry my mat’ if needed. Most importantly, this family of people remind me of the unfailing love God has for me, that I am His daughter, and that I am known infinitely by Him.

That even when the “what if’s” take hold of my mind, I’m reminded I do not need to know it all, but can rest in the assurance of the One who does.


“WHAT COMMUNITY MEANS TO ME”……………..

 


 

 

 

 

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