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May 29, 2014

Living in Community

I recently completed one of Chip Ingram's incredible studies. 
It was entitled "True Spirituality", and it focused on "Becoming a Romans 12 Christian".
Let me tell you, it was powerful stuff! 
I would highly recommend this study to anyone - no matter where you are in your faith journey.

For this post, I would like to specifically focus on one area that Chip emphasized over and over again - Living in Community. Time and time again, he reminded readers to do the following: [Purposefully] Structure your week to personally connect in safe relationships that provide love, support, transparency, challenge, and accountability.

What did I take away from this? A renewed sense of the fact that we must be intentional about authentically connecting [not just socially interacting] with others. Most of the time, this type of thing will not just happen on its own. It requires effort. It requires attentiveness & follow-through. It requires patience and a spirit of long-suffering. 

My worst days have been the self-absorbed ones. Have you ever had days...or weeks...or months...or years...when you have allowed yourself to wallow in self-pity and self-doubt? I am sure this looks different for all of us. Maybe you stay home and hide from the outside world. Maybe you escape reality and invest your time and energy with on-line strangers. Maybe you head out for an extreme [unhealthy] dose of shopping therapy. Maybe you sit on the couch and attempt to eat your problems away. Whatever this may look like for you, may I tell you that you are not making things better by attempting to completely escape or disengage?

We were created for community. Will you allow me to repeat that? We were created for community. God longs to commune with us, and He takes great pleasure in us not just interacting but truly connecting with each other. He longs for us to encourage each other and build each other up in our faith. His desire is for us to sharpen one another so that we can stand strong together. We need each other. Satan would love to convince us that we are better off alone...that independence is best...but God designed us differently, and as His children, He calls us to embrace that truth and walk in it.

I can look back over times in my life when I was too busy or too tired or too this or too that to really make an effort to live alongside others, and I regret my excuses. I am saddened when I consider the missed opportunities. However, it encourages me now - in the present - to make this a priority in my life. If I could ever make the excuses of being "too tired" or "too busy", it would be now - as a wife and a mom! Forget the time in my life when I was teaching full time, tutoring part-time, attending grad school several states away, and planning a wedding. All of that has nothing on the exhaustion I feel in my current role (as absolutely wonderful as it is!).

I have learned the importance of allowing others to walk alongside me in my journey. Living out of town - completely away from family - and mothering two little ones while my hubby works long hours is definitely not easy for 10,465 reasons. It is so important for me to share life with others outside my home. I crave opportunities to invest in other people, and I am better when I do. I enjoy meeting and connecting with other moms, and it is amazing how my perspective on a situation can change when I realize Everyone needs to know that they are not alone.

My most discouraging days are the ones when I do not reach out, and my best days typically include my connecting with at least one person - even if it is in small way...a long-overdue phone call...a walk with a friend...a play-date at the park...a card sent to an elderly encouraging e-mail sent to someone going through a difficult time. I have learned that when I live with a focus on others, I thrive, and I especially enjoy the opportunities that allow my children to learn how to live radically different in our me-focused society.

While your personality may be different...and you may not find yourself feeling quite so social, remember that everyone was designed for community...We were all made for relationships, and I would challenge you to ask yourself what that looks like for you.

Specifically as a mom, I have found that I need these five things:

Thank you for being part of this incredible on-line community!
I am so glad you joined me today, and I would love to get to know you better:
Let's connect via the social media buttons you see here on my page!