Community? Friendship? Relationships?
Yeah. I haven’t always thought so highly of those. They hadn’t always been kind to me, so I did all I could to avoid them for a long while.
Who wants to hurt, right? Who wants to voluntarily put themselves in a position of vulnerability, open to the real possibility of painful rejection and criticism? Who really wants to take that kind of risk with their heart?
As a result many of us, myself included, have allowed towering walls to form around us, brick by brick. The walls serve us well, keeping us in and everyone with the potential of hurting us out. Inside the wall we’re alone and safe.
Or so we think.
The thing is, we weren’t created for life behind walls. We weren’t made to do life alone, running and hiding from the people we’re meant to walk alongside. God made us in His relational image, and we’re meant to do life together.
And I think if we look deeply enough into our hearts, we’ll find that we do, in fact, want that. We want relationships and we need other people, but are often ill-equipped and unprepared to do what it takes to get them.
My journey with community has required a level of introspection and growth that I never could have imagined.
Along the way, I have unearthed issues of identity and shame that were the bricks in my wall of isolation. I had to chip away at those bricks to find the freedom for which I was made.
So if you’re in a place of isolation or loneliness…feeling like you’re on the outside looking in on a party to which you weren’t invited…more frustrated than fulfilled by Christian community, I get it. I do.
Here’s what I recommend you do as you work with God to find the freedom of community for which He designed you:
1 – Ask God how you got where you are. What specific hurts have made you want to hide from community? What memories make you cringe? Let Him speak to you about where the pain is coming from, and be open to what He says. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to feel the ache and hurt, and then let God begin healing you.
2 – Ask God what lies you’re believing about yourself as a result of those painful experiences. Have you formed your identity around the way people and relationships have made you feel? Have you allowed yourself to internalize the words and actions of others?
These lies are often such a part of our internal monologue that we don’t even hear them anymore, so it will likely take time and God’s insight to help you identify them.
3 – Ask God to replace those lies with His Truth. What does He say about what you’ve believed? How does His Word address the things you say to yourself? If He were allowed to take over your internal monologue, what would He say to you?
4 – Ask God for relationships. It sounds simple enough, but it’s not. This part is scary because it confronts our fears head on; it’s necessary, though, to surrender those fears to God as He sets you free from them.
5 – Ask God for help leaning in. Lean in to what He wants to do. Lean in to other people. Now that you know who you are and what God says about you, lean in to the challenge of vulnerability.
You’ll find it isn’t nearly as scary to subject yourself to the potential of others’ rejection when your security is in God first.
Friend, you were made for relationships, and it’s our enemy’s desire to keep you from them.
Don’t allow painful past experiences and heavy untruths to push you away from your God-given purpose. Don’t let the plans of the enemy keep you away from the people you need…and who need you. Because I need you, friend, and I think you need me a little bit, too.
You can read more in Jessica’s book, “Brick by Brick: Boldly Claiming Identity and Boldly Choosing Community”, available on Amazon.
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