On the Importance of Community

I was just scrolling through my own Instagram page.

Call me lame if you want to, but I love doing that. It’s the highlights from the last few years of my life and it’s just fun to look back on what’s happened. Old adventures, happy memories, sad goodbyes. As I scrolled through the photos I’ve been tagged in over the years, I was reminded of dear friendships.
Friendships that go deeper than surface level.
Deeper that Sunday/Wednesday church friends or work friends and possibly even deeper than some family relationships. These are the kinds of friendships where both parties are mutually vulnerable because they desire to be truly known. The goal is not to have cool friends or fun photo-ops. But instead, it’s simply a desire to be truly known and truly loved.
In my 22-going-on-23 years, those relationships have been few and far between. Before you get offended, let me explain why.

Those relationships are HARD.

And SCARY.

Terrifying, really.

It takes a lot of courage to bear the deepest things in your heart and soul and place them in front of another flawed human being.

Guys. Relationships are [inherently] messy.

Deep, honest, and vulnerable relationships are just that. Except everything is just a little more heightened and exaggerated. The hurts hurt more. When it feels like trust has been broken even just a little bit, the repercussions can be devastating.

Being vulnerable requires a lot of courage.

It’s the reason why not everyone knows our deepest, darkest secrets or our unspoken dreams. And that’s not a bad thing. We would be exhausted if we were constantly sharing these things with every acquaintance we had. (Not to mention that it’s also just not a good idea. The whole world doesn’t need to know everything.) But when we meet that person that feels like our “person” – the one who just seems to… “get” us – that’s when we desire a more meaningful relationship. And the way we create those is to get vulnerable with one another. It requires baring our souls and saying to one another, “Here I am. This is me.” It requires mutual trust and love.
When those relationships happen, it’s a bond that’s not easily shaken.

When we moved back to Minnesota, I didn’t realize the full meaning of what that meant for my friendships.

We moved back to my hometown, but almost all of the friends I once had have moved away by this point – moved on to bigger and better things than Small Town, MN. The few friends that are still here have continued living their lives without me. No judgment; I’ve done the same. People grow and change over the years and we aren’t the same people we used to be. And while none if this is really “bad”, it simply caught me off guard.

I just wasn’t expecting to be lonely.

I’ve realized the importance of community this season. In the midst of my loneliness and all of the hardships we’ve faced in the past year, I started to forget who I was. [Who I am.] And that’s what community is for: to remind us of who God says we are – our true identity – in times when we begin to forget.

A friend that we met in Switzerland came to visit for a weekend and it wasn’t until she left that I realized just how much I need friendships in my life. Real friendship. Close, authentic, honest relationships built on mutual love and trust. And the thing is, she really didn’t have to do anything. We just spent time together, laughed and had real conversations. Talked about shared memories and mutual friends that neither one of us have seen in almost a full year. And that was all it took. Through that reminiscing, I was reminded of things that go so much deeper than just a fun adventure. It reminded me of what God had done in that season of our lives.

It reminded me that that season was real.

(Believe it or not, sometimes I forget that.)

As we talked about what God had been doing in our lives recently, I remembered something I heard a speaker say years ago:
We have to talk about what God is doing, otherwise we’ll miss it.

The type of community I’m looking for is not hard to create. It just takes people willing to risk some heartache and some awkward conversations to come to a point of being know for who we truly are – who God has created us to be. But the point is, we need people. I need people. As much as I thought I could do this on my own… I can’t. Even when I told myself that “I had Ben and that was all I needed”… I was wrong. (Surprise, surprise.) We need community. We need the kinds of relationships that call us up and call us out. Call us up towards the person God created us to be and call us out when we’re acting in ways that don’t line up with that. People that remind us that God is still working when we can’t see it. People that celebrate even the smallest victories with us.

Really, we just need people to walk through life with. When God created us, He never intended us to be lone wolves with a “me-against-the-world” complex. He designed us to need people – whether we like it or not, whether we think we need them or not.

(Newsflash, we do.)

And to be completely truthful with myself, I have not done my part to create a community like this around me. I’ve sat back for the past almost-9-months, waiting for people to come find me. I have done very little to seek out relationships on my own. And I’ve come to the point where I’m realizing that it’s not fair for me to blame my lack of community on other people. Because if I’m not willing to take a risk and be vulnerable, how can I expect others to be?

So I’m just going to leave this here:
This is my challenge for myself. God has been nudging me for months and challenging me to make commitments and take risks. I think it’s time that I stop sitting on the edge, too scared to move anywhere. I’m challenging myself to take risks and step out of my comfort zone.

You can join me if you want to…

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