It Takes A Village

 
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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. 

 

The Weight In The Wait

There’s an epidemic sweeping across the homes of America. As I spend my time talking with people, there are many who struggle with the same issue. 

Invisibility. Many of us feel unseen. Many of us feel like we are consumed in the grind of the day, whether it’s raising little kids, building a career, or caring for elderly family. We are caught in an avalanche of tasks, paying bills, and satisfying needy people, and it seems like “self-care” is a million miles away. 

And social media only tells us how much other people have got their stuff together, how friends are killing their career goals, and how others are spending cash that can only be sourced from some secret benefactor. Seriously. We look at others and it’s too easy to slip down a spiral of self-criticism, comparison, and even regret. We start to second-guess the choices we have made and we wonder why we are so tired, so drained, and so depleted. And it feels like no one else notices. Or at least, you are the lone sailor on the ship of obscurity. 

In the midst of it all, God has something to say to our loneliness and exhaustion. He doesn’t say we have missed it. He doesn’t say we should regret the choices we have made. In fact He promises to make all things beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God doesn’t say that we are not enough; He says we have everything we need for everyday life and spirituality (2 Peter 1:3). He says He sees us, He knows us, and He values us (Psalm 139). 

But it doesn't feel like that. We feel forgotten. We feel far away from our dreams. We feel stuck in a life full of responsibilities and wonder if we will ever see our prayers answered. 

Like most of America, I have been enthralled by the rise of Michael Ketterer. If you have not heard of him, he’s a worship leader with United Pursuit who recently tried out for America’s Got Talent. He’s struck gold and the video of his audition has been viewed over 12 million times on YouTube (if you’ve not seen it, give it a quick Google). We all know worship leaders who have longed, or are still longing to be “discovered”. They know they have skills and abilities and yet they feel unseen to the rest of the world. But Michael Ketterer didn’t just sit and wait to be discovered. He worked faithfully as a Pediatric nurse. He served kids in his city and provided for his family. He adopted 5 children from the foster care system. He got on with the day-to-day of life and loved his family well. 

And when Michael walked on that America’s Got Talent stage to share his song and his story, America listened. There was weight. As Simon Cowell said, there was something special about him.

Look at Candace Payne, the Chewbacca-Mask Mom. As a young twenty-something, she was building a career as a comedian. But she realized her jokes were cynical about the church. She knew that if she continued to walk down the comedy path, she wasn’t going to give glory to God, but in fact dishonor Him. So she gave it up. Then she married and had kids, and they became her world. She led worship in her church. She was not working towards a book deal or a predominant career. Then one day, she took some things back to Kohl’s and picked up a Chewbacca mask in the clearance section. With excitement, she ran back to her car and made a quick Facebook Live video showing off the mask. Her video was so popular, that the unknown housewife broke Facebook! Within a week, her Chewbacca mask video had been viewed 140 million times, making it most viewed Facebook Live video of all time. Candace now has a flourishing career as an author and comedian. She has book deals, live tours, and an insane number of followers on social media. 

Neither of these people were on a track for fame or success. They were loving and serving the people right in front of them. They were working hard to provide. They were giving to people. And when the time was right, they were propelled towards their dreams.

Contrary to what we hear in our dog-eat-dog world, WEIGHT is given in the WAIT.  

Many of us have been given gifts and anointings from heaven. Some are musicians, some are business leaders, some are Christian leaders. But we can get disheartened as the minutia of life overwhelms us. Your kids need their diapers changed. Your boss has brought your deadline forward. An elderly neighbor needs help with some errands. 

And the dreams that once sparked inside our hearts seem to fizzle out. 

King David was anointed king but it took another twenty years for him to be appointed king. And during those years, he was being fashioned into a person of compassion, humility, and emotional freedom. He had his flaws, but he was a king who went down in history as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). 

But there have been too many servants of God who have been crushed by their anointings. We know who they are. We read the headlines and see their falls from grace. Like King Saul, David’s predecessor, their own insecurities triumphed over their anointings. Some embezzled money, some abused, whilst others slept around. Their gifts crushed them.

But in the wait, as your weight grows, you will not be crushed by your anointing. Instead, your anointing will serve you as you are appointed. Your spirit, soul, and body will work in synergy rather than in opposition to one another.

So today, know you are seen. Know you are loved. Know you are heard. Know that God wants you to thrive and not be crushed. Know that your wait is giving space for weight.

  

 

THE WHOLE HEART

A dear friend of mine is walking through some deep healing. I love this person fiercely and I know that the pain she has endured has been debilitating. She is a brave soul. She could have chosen to bury her grief and “get over it”, but for the health of her marriage and parenting, she’s not hiding from her heart.

In my experience, she is exceptional. Most of us are not that courageous. We fear addressing our brokenness. And counseling or therapy are like cuss words that are not suitable for polite conversation. Or perhaps a secret disease that we shouldn’t talk about in public. Like catching herpes or something, we don’t feel we can talk openly about needing help emotionally. It’s as though there’s a shame attached to it. We don't want others to see that we don't have our stuff together. And particularly in the Church, we can feel a pressure to communicate to others that we are OK. We even hide from God. We sing praises to him and give Him all the good things, but we hold back the deep and ugly places of our hearts. We don't want anyone, including God, to think that we lack faith or that we are simply crazy. So we bury our pain in hopes that it will go away. But the wounds linger in the depths of our hearts.

We don’t fault a person for needing physical therapy after they have a car accident, so why do we feel like we have failed when we need help after an emotional trauma? Divorce. Miscarriage. Job loss. Rejection. Abuse. Robbery. Assault. These are all traumas to the soul, and yet we quick to tell ourselves that we should pull ourselves together and "get over it".

The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬) Wow. Everything we do - work, rest, and play, all comes from our hearts. The heart is the rudder that will change the course and direction of our lives. But if a heart has experienced a trauma, and it has never healed, how can anything in life thrive? How can our relationships, careers, and faith journeys grow in a positive way? How can our lives reflect Jesus when we shut our hearts down and bury our injuries?

We see the dangers of not dealing with our wounds in the life of King Saul. Both Saul and David were chosen by God to be king. They both had their strengths, they both led Israel to military victories, and both had every earthly possession they could want. And while David is known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul is known as a jealous king who spent most of his reign hunting David down.

Jealousy is not born out of a whole, emotionally healthy heart. Jealousy arises from our insecurities. We look at another person and we want what they have. Like King Saul, we might possess all the wealth we could want, have all the power and autonomy we could dream of, and have succeeded in our chosen careers, but still, someone can come along and their very presence brings out our ugly emotions. David was just a shepherd who knew how to play an instrument, but after Goliath’s defeat, Saul was consumed with jealousy. David received the highest praise of Israel and this paralyzed Saul. His ugly emotions surfaced and he was powerless to control them. His crazy drove him to hunt David down. It didn’t matter what he owned or achieved, he wanted David dead.

David messed up in his life too. Like Saul, David wanted something that belonged to another. He wanted Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. He wanted her so badly that he sent Uriah to the front line so he would be killed. At this point in his career he could have had any woman he wanted (he was the king!) but his ugly emotions caused him to murder another man just so he could marry Bathsheba.

BUT…when David saw the error of his ways (2 Samuel 12), he was humble enough to confess and repent. His jealousy did not drive him. Instead his humility led him to repentance. I often wonder what David did for all those years as a shepherd. He would have been alone for hours and hours. He was known as a talented musician (1 Samuel 16:18) so perhaps he sat in the fields, playing and singing? Maybe he was talking with God about life? Maybe he was addressing his own hurts and disappointments with God? Maybe he was processing his frustrations and pain? And even though I am not sure what David did in the fields, it certainly appears that he did the work that was needed to become emotionally healthy. Despite setbacks in life (his brothers didn’t think much of him, he had to wait years to become king, and the king wanted him dead), David’s insecurities did not govern him.

Saul, on the other hand, became consumed with pride and jealousy. He was determined to kill David. He was so broken that this unhealthy obsession took over his life and he would not stop until David was dead.

One king had dealt with their emotional traumas, while the other did not. One became a king “after God’s own heart”, the other was rejected by God. Both had issues, but only one was brave enough to deal with them.

When God is leading you to address your brokenness, it’s not because you are crazy, it’s because He wants you to succeed in life. Like David, you may have sat on the sidelines for years. You may have been misunderstood by your siblings (1 Samuel 17:28), you may have been continually rejected by your leader, but choosing to operate out of emotional wholeness is the key to your success. Opening your heart to God and others is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Like my friend, you are the brave ones who are being prepared for success. You can be the king of one of the most powerful nations on the planet, but if you have not dealt with your past, your past will dominate you. You will be driven by insecurity.

Your heart is precious. Your heart is loved. And your heart will determine your future. God wants to give you success. Let Him have access to your heart. Let Him make the broken places beautiful! Let God’s truth soothe the torment in your soul. Grieve. Process. Embrace the pain so that healing can embrace you.