For a really long time (and by “really long time” I mean my whole life) I thought of community in one certain way. A group of people that know each other, may meet up once a week or once a month, who have a common interest. Like a community center full of people who are trying to make their neighborhood a better place. Or a book club where the common interest is a certain author or genre of book. One community I have been introduced to more recently is the blogging community. Facebook groups or an inner circle of bloggers who learn and grow with each other.
For so long I thought that was it. Just a group of people with a common interest. And I have always wanted more. I have always yearned for more community, closer friends, a deeper connection with the people around me.
I wanted community to mean more and be more. And then I began to really study what biblical community is and what it looked like in everyday life. I began to dig for deeper meaning because I thought “There has to be more to this!” And I learned that there IS more.
We see that the early church wasn’t just a community of believers but they were much more than that. They lived together, offered what they had to those who needed it, no questions asked. They were involved in daily life together, prayed together, worshiped together. Their lives were entwined with “togetherness”. They didn’t just meet once a week, worship and go home. No, they LIVED out their worship, daily. They knew each other intimately.
I can just imagine if we were so entwined in each other’s lives. How amazing would that be? How much easier would that make the hard times because everyone would already know what you were going through and they would come running to comfort and pray with you. People who know what you’re struggling with and could keep you accountable. People would literally walk through life together. I loved this idea of biblical community.
But that’s all it was – an idea. This magical little place in my head and heart that I never thought would be real.
At my church we have small groups that we call “lifegroups” because that is our aim – to do life together, to be a true community of Christ. I love my lifegroup, I love the people, the discussions, and their passion for the Lord. I have learned so much since getting involved in a lifegroup and my walk with Christ is stronger because I am challenged each week to dig deeper into the Word.
I began to see community forming in my life. But for so long I pointed fingers:
“I’ll open up when they do.”
“I’ll be vulnerable when I feel like they are reaching out.”
“I’ll trust them when they earn my trust.”
“I’ll ______ when they _____”
For so long I was discouraged because I was just waiting for community to just happen. I was waiting for someone else to make the first move. I was showing up and hoping that relationships would just magically form. I was making excuses so I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable, so there was no chance of getting hurt.
But the thing is, there is no community without vulnerability. There’s no community without putting in effort…from both sides.
What would happen if we stopped saying “Well, I’ll be vulnerable when THEY are. I’ll open up when THEY open up. I’ll trust them when they EARN my trust.” What would happen if you – I – took the first step. What would happen if I began the cycle of trust and comfort?
Can you imagine if God took this approach? “I’ll send my son when they earn it.” “I’ll forgive them when they love more.” “I’ll give them grace when they ____.” Can. You. Imagine? It would never happen would it?
I suddenly realized, “What if some of the women in my lifegroup and church are feeling the same way but we are all just waiting for the others to make the first move?” Where will that get us? If no one is stepping out in obedience then we just have a group of people who meet once a week, talk about a bible passage and go on with their lives – all the while, they each want the same thing: deeper community. But people like me have been too stubborn and scared to take the first step.
Two weeks ago I got married to the most amazing man. That day, I learned something about the community that has been right in front of my face. I had so many people who are friends or family that do NOT go to our church come to me and say “There was so much love at your wedding!” “You have such an amazing group of people supporting you!” “You guys are so blessed to have such a great group of people around you!”
I realized that they’re right. Having other people point out how blessed we are to have the people that we do opened my eyes. We DO have an amazing support system. We DO have so much love around us. We DO have such an awesome – dare I say it – community! All this time I have been looking and it’s been right there, I’ve just been too stubborn and closed off to realize it.
If I want deeper community I have to take the steps to get there. I have to initiate conversation outside of church and lifegroup. I have to reach out to someone I know may be struggling or to someone who has been on my mind. I have to ask to go grab a coffee…or maybe bring coffee by their house. I have to put in the effort too because they’re there. They’re there and they’re ready for me to be an active participant.
Shame on me for thinking I had to wait on them.
Shame on me for being a lazy part of my church community.
Shame on me for pointing fingers as to why I don’t feel a deeper connection.
Shame on me for not walking in obedience to Christ’s call to community.
Shame on me…shame on you if this is you too.
If you’re longing for deeper community, girl, I feel you. I’m right there with you! I’ve been there for quite some time. But let’s do our part. Let’s reach out when we know someone is going through something. Let’s foster those relationships with phone calls and texts throughout the week. Let’s start being an active part of the community that God has put us in instead of just sitting back waiting for others to do all the work.
This is a call to action – to all the women who are longing for a deeper community…do something about it. I have been praying about this for SO long and now I’m tired of just praying…I’m ready for the action and I’m answering my own call to action. You never know, you may find out that YOU’VE been the problem all along. I’m learning that I have been a big part of my problem! I’m learning that I have had amazing people surrounding me for quite some time now. But I was too busy thinking that I was right and they were the problem to even see it. So, will you join me? Will you do your part?