I have run from community my entire life.
I was the girl in grade school who always went home early from the sleepover.
I never went to summer camp because a night away from the comforts of home was terrifying.
I tried to pursue community in college, only to be rejected. Three different times, three different circumstances.
I’ve been told I need to change. I’m a bad friend. I don’t really do community very well. I’m not wanted.
I’ve been on this earth 30 years this year, and I’ve learned something important in just this last year – I need to stop listening to the lies, fears, and doubts and just jump in.
Because this community thing? Building relationships, making friends? I actually am not that bad at it. And God is using every single experience I’ve had in the past to soften my heart toward women who feel exactly that same way. Scared. Broken. Rejected. I get “you.” I know how hard it is to come out of your shell and dip a toe into community when you only want to run the other way.
Can I promise you something?
In time, with prayer, and the right people around you –you’ll find your place. There is a group out there just waiting to meet you, for you to share your special gifts and talents. Maybe you won’t find it this year, and maybe there will be some pain in the search, but my friend? Believe me. When you find your “people” you will know why God created you to be exactly who you are.
My community started online, through blogging. Then Twitter. Then a blogging conference where this introvert had to meet her online friends in real life and pray they were as kind as they were across the computer screen. I was afraid. Not that they wouldn’t be who they claimed to be as much as they would discover that I wasn’t at all the girl they thought I was. When community moves from online to real life and you choose to be brave enough to be eye-to-eye and not screen-to-screen, God can change your life.
I’ll be honest. I look at photos of myself from the conference and I see fear and exhaustion. But when I count the blessings that have come from that brave step? I wouldn’t trade it for all the fuzzy socks in the world. It’s worth it. I didn’t come away with 300 new friends. But God opened doors for incredible opportunities, gave me courage to pursue some God Sized Dreams, and gave me the gift of a handful of women from around the country who inspire, encourage, and pray for me daily. These online turned real life friends have shown me how to be a better friend to my family and my friends here at home. It’s a gift that keeps giving.
Be bold today. Invite someone for coffee. Plan to host or attend and (in)RL conference in April, even if you don’t know anyone right now who would go with you. Community doesn’t need to be big to be used for God’s glory. Tweet This–>
And who knows? You might be the new friend someone else has been praying for!