I have been hurt by community.
But never more than I’ve been blessed by it. And the last few weeks have been an overwhelming example of the body of Christ coming together to make Christ more and themselves less. I have watched women with hurting hearts respond with love. I have seen sisters who could choose envy, gossip, or negativity choose instead to cheer. In any other career, in any other setting, in any other environment I would have seen a community prepare for the worst. Instead? I was blessed to be part of an experience covered in prayer, guided by wisdom, respect, and dignity.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. – James 3:17 (MSG)
When everything you see and read online looks like in-fighting and bitterness, I have seen a community of women who are stronger and braver than they’ll ever know stand up and choose the hardest road there is – choosing encouragement over envy. They didn’t run away, they didn’t give up, and they didn’t create drama. They stood as sisters who know the power of an affirming word, even when you say it through tears and sad hearts. They didn’t care that they didn’t know one another in real life, it didn’t matter if they had the same background, upbringing, church denomination, educational choices, ethnicity, age, stage of life, or dreams for the future – they responded with respect because they simply treat others as they wish to be treated.
Let’s continue to be women who seek community. Who stay with it even when it doesn’t look or act or feel or respond exactly the way we think it should. Let’s be women who shine online – not because we’re standing under a spotlight but because we’re doing something different – we’re choosing to love and affirm when it doesn’t benefit us and when it’s not about us.
Let’s be women who choose more of Christ and less of us – because that’s when community and friendships will thrive. This is when it gets hard, when the easier choice is to shut down and silently leave it all behind in the dark of the night. But I can promise you – loneliness is not the blessing God intends for you to receive in community.
Father, I pray that you would open doors for each of us to find the community you have built for us. That we would feel at home, the kind of comfort where we can come as we are, hurts, fears, joys, and all – knowing that we’ll find sisters to weep with us and to celebrate with us. May we seek Your face in all we do as we courageously choose the hard work of friendship, sisterhood, and community – online and in real life.