If you could have a morning, free from distractions and insecurities, what would you spend it doing?
A cup of coffee comes to mind.
A pastry of course is naturally next.
A journal with fresh pages.
Tucked into my purse along with a medium ball point pen.
I’d take a drive to a nearby arboretum of trees arrayed along easy walking paths.
I’d show you everything that makes my soul happy.
And hope it fills your soul with some delight too.
What will pour out between the coffee we sip and the stroll we take is a glimpse of your heart.
In real life.
My Biggest Hurts
My biggest hurts in life have come from being in community. During the times I felt betrayed and rejected, I felt the brunt of expectations. I withdrew from community.
Don’t get me wrong. I still went to church. I needed worship in music and song more than ever. I loved God’s word, so I still enjoyed taking Bible Study classes. I even joined the choir, playing my violin.
But, I did not attempt to move in any direction that would lure me back into the net of expectations. I kept my heart distant where it was most tender. But, there was a cost to my lack of community.
I grew insecure. I lost touch with the real me. The Bonnie who was passionate, silly and spontaneous got lost in the Bonnie who was cautious and hidden.
There is a side effect to covering up parts of ourselves, even if it feels safe. Our soul become muffled, unable to be loved when we are weak and accepted when we are afraid.
You see, community isn’t about belonging to a group.
Spiritual community starts with sharing your real self with others.
As followers of Jesus, we share in a kind of community that’s organic.
It grows out of living our lives in the open — because we’re learning to grow in grace and love. In other words, we trust that God is at work in each of us.
As we are.
Not as we wish we were.
Not as we once were.
As we are.
I was hurt by community, but God also healed me through community too.
Real life community.
It doesn’t happen in an instant. That’s superficial.
Community happens one conversation at a time.
One meet up at a time with —
No words. Just being together and accepting each other into the same space.
Few words. To laugh, chat about everyday life things. Like where to get fresh strawberries and how hard it is to fall sleep when the summer’s too hot.
Lots of words. One on one coffee chats that go crazy too long and the barista is giving you the evil eye.
Small get togethers. Girlfriends four to eight hanging out, swapping stories of our in-progress journeys. Usually nibbling on something sweet and holding something warm in our hands.
The ways of God are endless. He is creative.
He knows just how you need to be reached. And He has the people in mind who can move your heart out once again.
But, you have to take that risk.
You know your pace. But, you do have to venture out.
We weren’t made to be alone.
Free To Be Real
Over many years, God has made many significant connections to free me to joy once again.
Now, I have the joy of spiritual community. I am free to be real.
I love being in real life with people.
It gives us the chance to offer each other the best gift possible.
Yourself. As you are.
Life is a treasure trove of ups and downs, to support each other’s unique strengths and weaknesses. We get to rejoice like crazy when happiness raindown like sheets of spring rain. We can also comfort and encourage each other when times are tough.
“you are a letter of Christ…
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Cor. 3:3
An Invitation: (In)RL
My friends who I write alongside at DaySpring (in)courage is that sort of community for women, but online. Since we’re all spread out across the globe, we write to share real life stories of struggles and triumphs, as we are.
This year, (in)courage wants to take community one step further.
It’s called (in)RL — stands for “in real life”.
(in)courage is inviting us to have real life “meet ups” with others who live locally, right where we are.
(in)RL takes place on Saturday, April 27, 2012.
Click here to check out the (in)RL meet ups happening near you and register. You can also host a gathering of your own. You pick the guest size, the place and the time.
** We all have stories of real life community. ** 30 of us at (in)courage are sharing about real life community to inspire April’s (in)RL. Visit Lisa-Jo who kicked things off yesterday and be sure to catch Holley Gerth who will be serving up her words tomorrow.
What are your stories of real life community?
Pull up a chair. I love having you here, inspiring community. Click to comment. Let’s encourage each other.
*** NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — LINK UP IN THE FAITH JAM ***
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*Next Thursday’s 2/2/12 Topic: * Share your thoughts on:: “real life” community. I have a feeling this is going to be a hot topic! Can’t wait to swap stories…
*This Thursday’s 2/9/12 Topic: * How are you Unwrapping Love?
Approach it any way you feel inspired! Only required ingredient: keep it real.
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