When Community Gets Personal

 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV

My closest friends had always lived the farthest away. 

It began when I was a little girl, traipsing around the world as an Air Force Brat. It didn’t take long to figure out that friendships were as temporary as the base housing we lived in.

It was much easier to hide my feelings in a huge U-Haul box, extra tape please. 

I mean, what’s the point of getting personal? 

Thanks, but no thanks, I prefer to protect my heart.

You with me? 

When I became a grown-up, more rooted in one place, I chose to keep those moving boxes stored in the attic of my soul for safe-keeping.

After all, I had my far away friends. My husband, bless him, would often make suggestions about my need for “community” while I smiled, nodded, and let his words go in one ear and out the other. 

Community wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. 

In my daily, I was just fine functioning as a community of one. 

Seriously, who wants to hang out with a girlfriend for lunch or coffee or a comforting hug anyway?

That would be me. 

That would be us, dear one. 

So, what’s the real reason behind our reluctance?

Hello, fear.

Fear crumbles our desire for community.

It delights in disconnecting us with others. 

It. Has. To. Go.

What I didn’t realize was that God was working out all the details. He’s awesome like that. He continues to pursue us even when…especially when…we’re running the other way.

Our personal God loves community and things were about to get really personal.

A couple years ago, I was invited to participate in an online writer’s group, where other word girls could learn and grow and cheer each other on.

As gatherings were forming in different cities, another writer reached out to me, asking if I’d like to meet for coffee.

In person.

I reluctantly accepted, but it took about two seconds for the skeptic in me to surface. I immediately began formulating excuses in my head for a quick exit after an even shorter hello.

But, when I got there, I discovered something…someone…totally unexpected.

Our Savior was waiting.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20 NIV

And, while two writer chicks camped outside the coffee shop, dodging raindrops while sharing life, I could hear the tape ripping off those moving boxes from long ago, gratefully inviting community to come on in.

That’s some kind of beautiful freedom, beloved.

What happened next was even more fabulous than the fanciest coffee on the menu.

I discovered that she was afraid too.

Just like me. Just like us, friend.

When we decide to get real and personal with each other, community is ignited. 

Our coffee dates continue to this day. We love each other like sisters.

All because our Savior loves us too much to leave us alone.

Oh, how He loves.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NIV

Recently, I decided to take another step out of my comfort zone and volunteer to lead a community group…in my house (and, even sometimes, out for eats), y’all.

Oh, did I mention I adore these lovelies?

When community gets personal, the word “me” goes away.

It’s about we.

It’s about all of us, love.

Community is messy and marvelous and spontaneous and simply the best. 

It spreads like gossip without the ugly words. 

And, when we finally, joyfully, swing open the door, we never want to close it again.

So, what are you waiting for, sweet soul?

There’s someone out there who needs you.

And, you need them…

Way than you know.

Open your heart to one another love that flows freely from our Heavenly Father.

Love that is beautiful and contagious and can change the world. XO

Spread your joy,

tina

6 Comments

  1. Sis, I opened your post and there we are…my heart rejoiced as I read your words. Oh, how we have grown. Two girl’s hearts knitted together as one for our Dad. I still see your rain boots you wore three years ago as I walked up with my bright yellow jacket on…we are not the same girls. Praise Jesus.

    Community connects the hearts together to form His Church. Community crushes and cures emotions that Satan tends for harm to keeps us isolated. Nope, not you. Nope, not me. No more, we know Who won the war.

    I am so proud of you. I love you Big.
    Your Sis

    1. Thank you for reaching out and meeting me that rainy day, Sister…for stepping into brave and inviting me into community. You are right…we are not the same girls, Hallelujah!! Oh, what a Savior. I love you Big. Your Sis XOXO

  2. Tina, Rick and I are fortunate that you took on Gibby’s “baggage” when you married and we all became family. Keep spreading your wings, everyone needs you in their life. Xoxo

    1. Oh Mary, thanks for being such a beautiful encourager in my life. I love you and love that WE ARE FAMILY! XOXO

  3. Hello dear cuz!
    Long time! Summer can be difficult for me to keep up w/ emails, but I was truly blessed & encouraged by this post!!! I REALLY think JESUS wanted me to read, because this is an area I’m struggling w/ as well, & am being prompted by the Holy Spirit to move forward in. You won’t believe, but just this am in my devotional time, I was being reminded to extend Christian hospitality to those outside the “walls of my home”. Then, I go to have breakfast, & the same encouragement is on the radio 🙂 WOW, GOD! I love it, when He gets right in my face w/ things. . . 🙂
    Hugs,
    Susie

    1. Oh Susie! I love hearing how God is nudging you toward community! So awesome. When we step out in faith, He is always faithful. Keep me posted on the journey, sweet cousin. Lotsa love to you! XOXO

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