When it’s hard…

Sometimes living in community is easy.

Last week I talked to a friend who faced the loss of a loved one, and they described how their community came together to serve, and support. Meals were dropped at the house before they returned from the hospital. Someone purchased and dropped off a log splitter to help. People called, showed up, and made a difference. The power of this kind of ministry can not be understated. To know you are seen, your grief is acknowledged, and you are not alone is priceless.

I’ve seen church families respond to loss, trauma, and need with stunning simplicity. Here, share what I have. How can I help? What do you need? I have been humbled to receive such practical support and blessed to be part of its provision. Some of the most powerful lessons of our lives occurred over a frozen casserole and a bag of groceries. This is often when the church is at its best.

Sometimes living in community can be very hard. This is the other side of the same coin. The very people who allow us in their lives to love and support them, also allow us close enough to hurt them. When we rub up against each other as we try to serve together, learn together, and live together… it can get difficult.

My expectations of others get in the way. I expect people to be like me. To value the same things I do, and to see the world from my perspective. Even when we believe the same core things, our individual expressions of that belief can be very different. When I am offended, I must learn to address my own heart first.

The tender places in my heart can be bumped in community. People unknowingly rub against a wound that is not yet healed and I feel the pain. I can unintentionally injure someone with careless words or missed communication. Tending these wounds, big and small is essential to life in community.

When differences are seen as a threat, not a strength, we set ourselves up for division and discord. So often, my insecurity gets in the way of valuing your gifts, perspective, and contribution. How we live with each other’s differences, and with our own reaction to those differences is vital.

Community seems to be a buzzword in Christian circles these days, but the true work of relationships built on mutual respect, freedom, and vulnerability is often overlooked. There are no shortcuts to knowing and being known. We must intentionally make time for it, and choose to stay in there for the long haul. When we do, we will disappoint each other, annoy each other, and sometimes hurt each other because that’s what happens when people live in community. Each of these moments of discomfort and challenge offers us a chance to grow, to deal with our own hearts and deepen relationships through honest communication. This is the work of community… it’s hard, and it matters.

31daysThis is number 22 of a 31-day writing challenge. Please click here to follow the rest of the series. Thank you for joining me on this journey!

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