The word “community” has been floating to the surface recently in the language of the church in the same way that the word “engaged” took on new meaning in the education world a few years back. Community is a challenge for me. Community is what I desperately needed as a child in a world I didn’t understand.
“Why?” you ask.
I was a transient child. I went to 14 different schools between kindergarten and graduation. I learned early on that my safe place was church. But even that came with a caveat. You see shunning doesn’t only happen in the Amish way of life. At church, I was the outsider usually, the “new girl”. I didn’t warm up easily, and perhaps my behavior revealed just how starved I was for normal. I struggled for some sense of identity and belonging even though I didn’t understand it then.
Community has a lot to prove to one who has discovered she is still not sure she trusts in the meaning of that word. I realize that I’m happy as a clam all alone most days and I’m ok with people I know really well; that is my true comfort zone. The easy route would be to stay at home in a velvet prison of my own making.
I’ve been in community. I’ve been involved in work that required my accountability and made me responsible in ways I was no longer willing to accept. I stepped out of that community when I stopped working and have been floating alone and with family and I like it. “But,” I hear you say, “family is community.” Well, yes, it is, just not the community I’m talking about here.
The idea of being a part of a community implies more accountability and responsibility and frankly, I’ve been worn out by those two words and taking that on willingly- well, that means stepping back out into the unknown It goes beyond the ties of blood out to ties that bind our hearts to one another through the Holy Spirit. God has told me that He designed me for community and that I have something to contribute and He wants me to be a part of a community.
So, Lord, what does that look like in Your eyes?
I think I may be about to find out…
I’ve been given an opportunity to throw myself into community in a big way this week; Allume is a conference for Christian women who are bloggers. Like me, they write, type, and carve out their feelings, their impressions, and lessons they’ve learned along the way to share with others who are traveling similar paths. They know that the Father is the Author and Creator of the universe; they share the same Spirit with me. We are IN Christ. Some have become entrepreneurs or published writers as a way of providing income and the ability to stay at home with their children. Most of these women are much younger than me and may have babes in tow and new recipes, and ways to parent on their minds right next to finding the best bargain ever.
I’ve lived through that part of the journey and am in a different season of my life. I have no expectations from these few upcoming days other than to learn, to see how God fits me into community, and to walk away knowing a few new Christian Sisters who are on the same journey-seeking to be a part of community.
If that’s you, I feel like I know you already!
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
“Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17