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.