“A friend loveth at all times; And a brother is born for adversity” – Proverbs 17:17
Anyone who comes back from the World Race (or Summer camp for that matter) knows that the feeling of authentic community soon seems a distant memory– virtually impossible to attain where you are at, in your every day life.
You can absolutely love your friendships where you are, but if you’re not having to push through corn stalks in the middle of the Kenyan jungle with them to find the outhouse… or maybe telling secrets in a bunkhouse, you’ll never feel quite the same bond as you once did.
What’s to be done but wait it out? I had a friend text me a while back and she said this, “After 2 years of waiting, I finally feel like I’ve made as tight of friendships here as we had in college (A tiny college of about 600 people on campus… so similar feeling of community). They don’t look the same, they will never be the SAME but it FEELS the same.”
Now when you say the word “feel,” either people run away from it, proclaiming it isn’t trustworthy or they completely relate to it and can say, “I got you on that.” Hopefully you’re the latter or know someone who is. I’m a feeler. BIG TIME. But I’m also a thinker… big time and I just hadn’t been able to get back to that community feeling and it was driving me nuts trying to think the reasons out of why not?!
But then I went through a terribly hard time. A season, yes.
Suddenly, I didn’t just crave that close community I once knew with other people, I NEEDED it. A band of warriors, surrounding me and helping me to make it in this all too realistic life.
But I had only half-way chosen my friendships because I thought they couldn’t be the same.
“Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find…” Matthew 7:7
I had even considered this verse many times in my remembrance of the relationships I’d had. I asked God for it… but I asked with an un-expectant spirit. I just didn’t think the closeness could come again like it had. Not without the mud… and the corn… and the bunkbeds?
And then it did. I tried to do it all on my own, isolating the truth of what was going on to only my husband and family, but my friends began to pry and so I told them, one by one, what was happening. Suddenly they were there more, communicating more, seeking out my friendship more.
What was this change? Am I just that needy now? I’ve been burned by needy relationships in the past. I really didn’t want to repeat that.
No, it wasn’t co-dependency. It was community. I choked up on the thought.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” – Proverbs 27:17
I still didn’t let them in too deeply in my sorrow. There was too much sadness there for this “virtuous woman” to posses. It looked dirty to me so it might stain them as well. “I don’t want to bring my community down. I want to lift them up!” I would exclaim to my new husband.
And then came the breaking point for me emotionally. That moment when you can go no further on your own. The moment you need a cavalry to swoop in and lift your chin, while fighting the giants for you. I remember sitting outside the local bagel shop and telling my mom angrily, “I asked God for an army of friends to fight on my behalf but I feel so alone. You and my husband do all you can do and my friends here do what they can but I seriously need to be prayed over and loved on like never before… it’s so weird to need people.”
Moments later my phone rang, “Hey, Ma (term of endearment, I’m told), I felt like I should call you. Tell me everything. What’s the update on you? How’s your health and how’s your heart? We love you. You and your hubby. We love you.”
And they do.
The community began to pour in. I asked the Lord without even knowing it, in a way I never had before… past the “best ways to speak to the God of the universe” phrases and into the heart of the matter. I was in need. And He fulfilled my need when I least expected it.
Every time, that God.
Community soon became about prayer… and hugs. Lot’s of hugs. Those were hard at first (Maybe still are a bit) because it had been so long since I’d let myself sink into one fully. Community was about meals brought over on surgery days and songs… oh the songs they sent! They are really getting to know me and I them. It was beyond words; it was service and genuine care. It was the deeper things and it was a beautiful expression of my heavenly Father’s love for me in the form of what I needed.
Lessons learned (Because I can’t FEEL anything without THINKING through it):
1. Having need isn’t being “needy”
2. Sharing hurt isn’t depressing to those meant to bear it with/for you
3. Trusting God is always the best plan (This lesson is one I’m meant to learn often)
4. Community never looks the same in any given season… but it does feel the same
5. Ask God for things out of a genuine place, even if it sounds yucky coming from your mouth
6. Give back. Loving these same people when they’re in need will be the circadian rhythm of His love
I certainly have a long way to go on the journey to become the best community that I could ask for. Finding it again… here… or really, it being thrust upon me while I was wrecked, was a great catapulted means towards the unifying end.
Community. Centered around our need for God, His hands and feet at work in us through others.
That is the best description I could possibly give it… well, currently anyway. Until He teaches me something new about it in like a day or two.
Have you found community in this season? If yes, describe it in a comment below. If not, explain how you feel in the “mean time” and how Lauren’s recent experiences might have encouraged you!