Community. We all seem to want it, but at the same time many of us seem to be repelled by it. In my conversations with people, I hear story after story of how they have been rejected or excluded from church and now they refuse to step out to build friendships.
The Church is flawed. There’s no escaping it. It’s filled with people like you and me, and as much as I tell my husband I am practically perfect in every way, I know that my imperfections hinder, hurt, and frustrate others just as much as the next person.
But still, no matter how busy we can make ourselves with life, we need people more than the American Dream. We need people to speak life to our hearts. We need people to champion us. We need people to love us, encourage us, and point out our blind spots. We need people to laugh with us, to believe in us, and to cheerlead us.
Without community, our brokenness will triumph over our hopes and desires. Just look at King Saul and King David. Both were anointed king by God. Both of these men where fit to lead a nation. But both messed up. There were many differences in their leadership, but I have recently been meditating on how David allowed a man of God to speak into his life whilst Saul refused to listen to anyone.
Like Saul, a lack of community, a lack of wise voices in our lives can ultimately be our downfall.
But still, many of us choose to remove ourselves from community. After rejections, knock-backs, and let downs, we decide that relationships are “drama” and choose to focus our attention on only a trusted few. Some choose a trusted pastor, their spouse, or maybe a best mate. But the circle is small and it’s safe.
The ancient proverb tells us that, “It takes a village to raise a child”. But I’ve discovered it’s not just about the raising of children – it takes a village PERIOD. It takes a village to build a career. It takes a village to prosper emotionally. It takes a village to have a strong relationship with God.
In their best selling book, “Boundaries”, Cloud and Townsend describe;
“We all need more than God and a best friend. We need a group of supportive relationships. The reason is simple: having more than one person in our lives allows our friends to be human. To be busy. To be unavailable at times. To hurt and have problems of their own. To have time alone. Then, when one person can’t be there for us, there’s another phone number to call. Another person who may have something to offer. And we aren’t enslaved to the schedule conflicts of one person.” (P111)
You see, when we only allow a particular one or two people into our lives, we are placing enormous pressure on them. In our quest to create a comfortable life for ourselves, we are limiting the choices of besties and giving them very limited scope to be human. So when they are unavailable, when they are hurting or needing time alone, we end up feeling rejected, let down, and totally disappointed.
Jesus was into community. He had the three (James, John, and Peter), then the twelve disciples, and also His larger group of followers. He had pockets of friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. As much as He prayed and spent time alone, people were clearly Jesus’ thing.
In this season of my life, I am discovering community with people that I never expected. It’s easy for me to choose my BFF and my husband, but it’s harder to create a wider circle. It’s scary. It makes me vulnerable. I have to work a little bit.
But my community is gradually becoming rich and varied. Some people in my community can speak to my heart and some to my parenting. Some I laugh with, some I have deep conversations with, some I can do both! Some can offer help with my littles, while others can only pop over for coffee every few months.
So try it. Let go of your hurt. Open your heart. Don’t just focus on those who are your “first round pick”. Look beyond your inner circle and cast your net wide! Love people. Remove pressure and expectations, and give them choices. Ask God to be in the process. Ask Him to lead you to your people. Like we read in Matthew 7, if we ask God for bread, He’s not going to give us a stone. So if we ask Him for friendships, He’s not going to give us a bunch of crazies.
Make community. Build your village.