Letting creation be the drive on this journey of the unimagined life.
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 ifthat 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.
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.
“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. 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 church 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.
Read more about what others say about “WHAT COMMUNITY MEANS TO ME”:
Community means a lot to me. Those of you you who know me, know that. To be honest, that’s an understatement. Community means taking part in God’s identity. Since we are created in His image, that means embracing community means walking in the footsteps of our Heavenly Father, walking in line with His Spirit, and following the perfect example of His Son Jesus. When I think about community, I think of God’s triune beauty in perfect harmony. I think it’s rather strange that God being absolutely sovereign over everything….EVERYTHING that He would work Himself out in a communal way. For a long time I wondered why God glorifies Himself in three instead of one but as I continue to see God reveal Himself to me through His word, I’m see that community is one of the most beautiful characteristics of God. I especially see that in the life of Jesus. Jesus didn’t need a group of young men around Him. He’s was/is God incarnate. He did that to show us the beauty of dependence on Him through being family with other believers and how to always remember we have been adopted as sons and daughters through His eventual sacrifice. Practically, that means sharing and doing life with our brothers and sisters in Christ. You know what I mean? Like actually knowing each other well because we have invested in the lives of each other. That means listening to each other with the intent of understanding, not the with intent of responding. It means speaking into each other’s lives with courage and calling out sin in love and grace. It means us not leaving the beautiful GIFT of community when we don’t want to be challenged or encouraged to live in light of the Gospel. It means trusting Jesus in that gift when depression, society, work, relationships, pride, anger, skepticism, bitterness, etc…tell us to not to trust Jesus. It means staying and forgiving our brothers and sisters because Jesus never leaves us when we spit in His face, daily. It means saying and meaning, “you’re right sister, thanks for being honest with me.” It means saying, “brother you really pissed me off, can we talk?” Community means putting aside your pride constantly and confessing sin to God and your community. Community means loving God and loving people even when it’s hard and it usually is. Community means opening the door of your life and letting people in to know you and love you well when your nature and personality is completely opposed to that. It means meeting people where they are and not pushing them too much (I do this a lot.). It means praying for people instead of complaining about them. When we obey God’s command and graciously accept His gift to live in community, He uses it to change the world….but don’t take my word for it. Let God and His word do the talking.
For me, community is about loving and trusting each other enough to put our vulnerabilities and flaws on display. It’s about not judging each other in our weaknesses and lifting each other up in our strengths. Community is choosing a family you weren’t born into, and loving them as if you were.
To me community means SO MUCH! In short it means being fully known and deeply loved! It means being accepting of others, regardless of background, social status, weird quirks, etc. It means walking alongside people through their ups and downs. Community means sharing all and bearing all together, more importantly pointing others to truth and Jesus. It means putting the gospel on display, LOVING others as Christ loves us, putting others needs before your own. It means carrying the “mat” for others and being willing to be carried (which is the harder portion for me). It means being vulnerable. It means calling each other out when necessary, it means reminding them of truth, within the pages of the Word. It means loving them despite their sin, because our sin is not our identity….
For me, community is the place where the thoughts go away and the good times start to roll. It’s where I can be myself without fear of judgment or care in the world. It’s a place of love and awesome memories. Of sacrifice and true family. We may live in a busted up word but my community is a little slice of heaven
To me community means (in no particular order)… -Becoming stronger -Messy -Dispelling darkness -Speaking truth -Carrying burdens -Walking alongside -Serving selflessly -Sacrificing time -Gaining family -Experiencing true acceptance -Loving people where they’re at while pointing them to something greater -Staying in even on the days when I want out because you’re worth it and I’m worth it
Community should be walking through life together, putting your trust into others, sharing stories and ideas. Also, offering a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and arms for support
Healthy community encourages you, challenges you, is there for you in person or text or phone call, prays for you, laughs at and with you, sings in the car with you, road trips with you, explores God’s creation and goodness and grace with you, reminds you of the vastness of God’s creation and goodness and grace, cries with you, points you back to Scripture, points you to the blessings, and serves others alongside you. And occasionally gets really, really competitive over Hungry Hungry Hippos.