I know what it is like to have a heart walled-off from others. I remember what it felt like to protect my heart and not let anyone get close.
And then I found community.
It felt safe.
I slowly let my guard down.
I discovered there was freedom in vulnerability.
I learned I was not alone. It wasn’t just me.
It felt risky putting my heart out there, especially when the loud voices in my head warned me that I would regret it.
I wish I could say it was pain free. It wasn’t.
It is risky to put your whole heart out there, but there is also great reward.
My natural response to pain is to isolate myself. I just shut-down. If I stay to myself and never let anyone in, then there will be no disagreements, no misunderstandings, no disappointments, and no broken friendships.
It felt normal to isolate myself because that is how I survived my childhood. I never wanted anyone to know my struggles so I built walls around my heart for my own protection.
In community, those walls fell one by one. Once the walls were down and I felt pain, my first instinct was to put the walls back up.
Luckily, my counselor encouraged me to persevere. She encouraged me to learn from my experiences and to keep going.
I reluctantly stayed in community, and I remained open. Was it pain-free?
While I have experienced pain in community, I have also received tremendous support, encouragement, and affirmation.
I’ve said, “You can do this!” and I’ve heard, “You’ve got this!”
I’ve experienced grace and I’ve learned to give grace.
I’ve asked for forgiveness, and I’ve learned to forgive.
I’ve prayed for others, and they’ve tenderly prayed for me.
I’ve laughed. I’ve celebrated. I’ve wept.
Community is not perfect.
Community is messy and it’s beautiful. In community, as you engage with others you will discover more about yourself.
You will make mistakes and you will achieve milestones.
You will truly begin to believe in others and you will know that they believe in you.
Community is imperfect togetherness, full of risk and reward. Some call it a tribe, but I think of it as a gathering of brave souls willing to show up.Tweet
I know how hard it is to show up. I remember showing up and not saying anything for months. When I first said something, I remember the alarms pounding in my head demanding I just stay quiet.
The enemy wanted to keep me isolated. He wanted me to be alone in my pain and struggles. He wanted me to be quiet. When I was isolated and quiet, I was ineffective.
Something significant shifted in me when I gathered in community. I found healing, I discovered my voice and I realized my purpose.
We were not created to do life alone. We were designed to gather in community.
If you feel like you are isolated and alone, please know there is a place for you at the table where grace abounds and love wins, every time.
Let’s show up.
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.Hebrews 10:22-25 MSG