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 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.