God’s heart for community is evident throughout so much of the Scriptures. Psalms 133 says “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”. Then in Hebrews 10:24 it says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another….”
These two verses beautifully represent God’s heart for his children to be rooted in community. I heard it said like this: “community is the intentional pursuit of being intertwined in each other’s stories”. I like that a lot.
Its being a part of the highs and the lows together, being hope for each other when needed, lifting each other up, having fun together, working together, encouraging one another, helping each other grow, pointing one another to Jesus.
Once a month on a Wednesday evening we all get together. Sometimes there are 8 or 9 of us, sometimes more. We all stroll in around 6 with food and children in tow and we dig into a delicious meal and cram around our small dining room table. This one particular night our friend made the largest pan of the most delicious lasagna I have ever eaten. I think prepared food is my love language. I think we all felt the nourishment and love that night as we ate.
We all enjoy each other’s company, and if I were to guess, there are some nerves about what the next hour conversation will entail. This group of people, these friends, we’ve been through a lot in the last year or more. There have been car accidents, cancer and few deaths among other things. It has been a difficult and traumatic few years.
After we finish eating we fill our coffee mugs and retreat to the living room for some conversation. Not everyone likes sharing. We try and keep a limit to how much one shares and there is no pressure whatsoever to share. Our last evening together I opened with a thought from Brene Brown from her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”. She talks about how many of us never learned how to lean in to discomfort as children. When stuff happens in our lives we tend to look for ways to “take the edge off” rather then lean into the situation at hand. For some, that could be drinking, for others food or social media or isolation. We would rather add something to soothe our discomfort than deal with the discomfort itself. I encouraged my friends that being in this circle in the first place was a form of leaning in. We all know during supper that this conversation is what follows. It can be very uncomfortable.
But even as an extrovert, I can see no better way to lean into discomfort then by being in community with people you love, and who love you right back and want to encourage you in your time of mourning and questions. The power of the phrase “me too” is so vital in times like these. We need reminders that we are not alone.
I am so saddened by the fact that so many in the church today, as soon as they are going through a very difficult time, isolate themselves from church. They stop coming. This is the very time when being WITH people is important.
I believe we will never reach our highest potential outside of community and God intended for it to be that way. We need each other. And we are better together.
So I encourage you to lean in. Whatever situation you find yourself in. Lean in. Lean in to church. Lean in to friends who love and support you. Lean in to God’s Word.
Community can look different for everyone. There are no rules. There is no right and wrong. It just has to be valued and intentional. It never just happens. So find your tribe and love them hard, let them love you… and lean in.