Community hurts. This isn’t a post I wanted to write, but one that has to be included in this series. I don’t know your story, or where you come from, but I would wager a guess that you have been hurt by community in the past. And maybe you’re wondering right now why you should bother with finding a new one, or staying where you. I know that place.
Sometimes there are moments in life that are so extreme that they shape who we become. For example, when I was in junior high, I had a teacher write me a note, telling me that she thought I was a great writer and inviting me to join the school newspaper. It was the first time I remember someone believing that I could do something I loved – someone who wasn’t related to me and obligated to say it. I didn’t know it then, but it would set me on a course that would lead to a degree in English, a love for blogging, and a passion for using the written word to encourage others.
I didn’t have any idea how God would use the huge hole in my heart for His glory when it happened – when community was ripped away and I was told that I was an awful friend. I was selfish. I wasn’t worth their time, and that it would really be best if we were just never friends. Not in junior high, but in college. Not by an acquaintance, but by a close friend, someone I considered a mentor and a sister. She was a leader of a retreat I went on my sophomore year, and we connected immediately. She was the extrovert to my introvert, the upperclassman to my underclassman, fearless to my insecurity.
She taught me a lot. She encouraged me, held me accountable and we had a lot of fun. Until she was ready to move on, and my heart broke. It didn’t make any sense, but I can tell you this. Without that experience (and several others that followed in the next few years), I would not have a heart sensitive to those seeking community. I wouldn’t be aware of the need, the fear associated with jumping back in, or the courage it takes to put your heart on the line. I wouldn’t have allowed God to take the broken pieces of my heart and repair them into something that looked a little less worldly and a lot more like Him.
I wouldn’t have a passion for building community and holding the door open so others can come in. God knew. He knew how and when and why and what I would do when He called me back into it. I can only appreciate the beauty of community because I’ve seen the ugly. I’ve lived the depression, believing the lies that I’m not worth anyone’s time.
Listen. You are worth it. There is a place for you. Build it if you have to – join it if someone else has done the work. It might not feel brave, and that’s ok – we don’t always have to be brave to follow where God is leading us. We just have to inch one foot in front of the other long enough to get where God wants us to go.
Kris Camealy says
Love and prayers for you, all of the days.
Oh I just love that…we can either be “bitter or better.” Beautifully said – and I’m so glad you stopped by, Rebecca 🙂 What a blessing to meet you here!
That’s such a wonderful idea, to bless your community with your full attention and spending time filling up before you go and pour out. I might need to adopt that one 🙂
Amen, girl. Amen. (also, I love you and just love when you stop by & leave me little nuggets of wisdom & wonderfulness.)
Thanks so much Deb!
Oh girl! You totally should have come up and given me that big hug 🙂 Although since I’m equally shy and introverted in those settings, I probably would have been 100 kinds of awkward 😉 We’ll get another chance for that hug, one day!
So glad you stopped by Lisha! And yes, this encouragers heart once needed (and still does, very often need) encouragement 🙂
In personal experience, it’s hard to go wrong with Bonhoeffer 🙂 Keep building, friend.
Victoria Wilson says
Crystal, what a wonderfully, painfully honest post. But these honest posts are the ones that need so badly to be written and read. I’ve been struggling with this idea of “community” (especially the Christian community of church) and what to do when community isn’t that common. What do we do when building community gets HARD? Keep building. That’s the answer that the Lord has graciously provided to me. Keep building and, by His grace, He will mend what is broken and strengthen what is weak. I’ve also been reading ‘Life Together’ by Bonhoeffer and that’s been encouraging. Thank you, again, for this post.
Lisha Epperson says
Hi Crystal! visiting from #31days!
I love how God rebuilt the home of your heart…knowing all along it was torn down for His glory. Yes…the encourager once needed encouraging. Thanks for sharing this story.
Meredith Sings says
Oh sister friend.
I needed to read this, and oh man how I wish that there was a way that I could have read this BEFORE Declare where I was stupidly too shy to go up and grab you in a hug.
Because I have been hurt by community — in real life, and online… and as much as I am extroverted online I am more introverted (and SHY and SCARED) in real life.
You are amazing… and I love how Go has restored and created depth to your mission of CREATING community through the pain and sorrow that community caused you.
*sigh* Now I wish I had hugged you in real life when I had a chance.
Thank you for this.
Deb Anderson Weaver says
I love how God has used your experiences to make you someone who holds the door open for others. Beautiful. Thank you.
Kris Camealy says
I’m glad you shared this, it’s so neat to see where you have come from, and how God has restored you to a community that loves you and cheers for you. He is so faithful to redeem our broken seasons. All for Hs glory.
This is one of those places that has been the hardest for me as a mother: knowing those moments will undoubtedly come for my girls. It changes us. And yes, it serves us although at the time we can’t even imagine it. I also had a thought today about retreating (as in a personal retreat) from community. I could go to a meeting tomorrow before I lead a discussion group, but I don’t want to overbook myself and not serve the discussion group well, so I am not going to go to the meeting. I’m prepared for people to be angry with me. Just want to be true to what is best for me so I may be of best service. Thanks for your series. It is excellent.
Amen! Wow! Your words just laced with grace and encouragement.. thank you. It’s amazing how God works in our hearts. The experiences we go through can either make us bitter or better. You’re a blessing to me even though I don’t comment that much, but I am reading your words and I admire the heart God has given you for community. Hugs!